MJ Hibbett & The Validators


Totally Acoustic Begins Again
On Thursday night last week The Shows On My Schedule and I found ourselves once more in the comforting environs of The King & Queen in London's fashionable LONDON area of London for the first in the new series of Totally Acoustic. Amazingly it's been four month since the last show but as soon as we trooped upstairs, alongside Mr S Hewitt, it felt like we'd never been away.

The three of us set the chairs out then went downstairs to await our first two ACTS, Mr Ben Cosh and Mr David Callahan, who arrived in good time, ready for ACTION. Our third act, Mr Steve Lamacq, would arrive a little later as he had WORK round the corner at The BBC.

The room filled very nicely, including a RECORD BREAKING number of Totally Acoustic alumni including Mr Tim Eveleigh, Ms Jenny Lockyer and, down for the evening from Derby, Mr FA Machine! We began, as ever, with The Theme Tune and then I did a couple of songs - I was originally intending not to play at ALL for this series, as we have plenty of guest acts, but then I thought a) this would mean less SHOWING OFF for me but also b) it's a bit unfair to force someone ELSE to kick off the evening. Not that I need have worried as Ben Cosh came straight on and won over the whole room by being GRATE, either on his own or with his wife Amy singing lullabies. It was brilliant!

As indeed was David Callahan i.e. him out of The Wolfhounds who kicked off with an acapella song and then some ace songs featuring a TONNE of twiddly bits - in this case CATCHY twiddly bits that I found myself singing all the way home!

Finally Steve Lamacq got up and told some STORIES - he said he'd been nervous about it beforehand, but this did not seem apparent once he got up and got going. It was ACE - apparently this is going to form the basis of a one-man show somewhere along the line and I personally CANNAE WAIT.

And then that was it. All that was left to do was have another BEER and a YACK and then head out into the night, very happy with how the new series had begun. You don't have to take my word for all this though, for LO! the PODCAST of it all is available to download right NOW over on the Totally Acoustic site!

posted 5/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back To Work
About 18 months ago my old job finished and, FLUSHED with a small pay-off. I decided to have some time OFF. After approx 23 years of working I thought it might be quite good fun and - NEWSFLASH - I was not incorrect! I got to spend all day doing LOADS of exciting and fun things without having to get on a TOOB into town to sit at a desk while pesky people asked me to do OTHER things.

It has been a DELIGHT, with the only slight downside being the lack of MONEY. The vague idea was that I'd make CA$H from The Writing and though this has happened a little bit it hasn't happened sufficiently to support me. To be honest, it hasn't happened sufficiently to even support a very small insect on a diet (last week's prize money basically QUADRUPLED how much I've earnt in my time off!) and so I thought it was probably time to go back to PAID work.

So it was that I sat down to look at jobs.ac.uk, the Universities' job vacancy site - after all this time I am pretty much RUINED for working in The Private Sector, and also I really really wanted to get back on the University PENSION scheme. When I say "really really" I mean "really REALLY really" - I am actually quite EXCITED about it!

I found a job which appeared to be similar to my last job but a) on a project that was still GOING b) with lots of different things going on and c) in a small team, so I applied and got an INTERVIEW! The first part of it seemed to go very well - it was FUN actually, as it turns out that going on about The Projects What I Did is something I enjoy - but then I had to sit a TEST. A WRITTEN test, with pen and paper! The first two questions on it filled me with DREAD as they were TECHNICAL e.g. one asked the difference between a clustered and non-clustered index. Luckily in the interview I had mentioned the fact that I am WAY behind with current thinking and/or terminilogy so was able to say so and have a (incorrect, as i later discovered) guess. The rest of the test involved DATA DIAGRAMS tho, which is something i have been known to do on my own time for FUN!

To cut an ALREADY almost too fascinating story short, the next day they offered me the job and I said YES PLEASE! So it is that as of October 12th I shall be an employee of Imperial College, travelling out to WHITE CITY every day. It'll mean more commuting time but hopefully that'll in turn mean that I can get back to BOOKS and listening to MUSIC again. It'll also mean a bit less time for The Writing, so I'm planning to spend the next week finishing off a TONNE of things!

It's all quite exciting - this is, basically, only the third proper job I've ever had!

posted 2/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Nithe In Neath
On Sunday morning The Wheels On My Wheelie Suitcase DIVERGED and I, her heading home and me to NEATH where I was due to attend The Sandalle Five 'n' Ten Writing Competition. This was an afternoon featuring the winning entries for a monologue and duologues competition, and I was IN it!

Also in it was Ms N Racklin, fellow Lost City Writers' Group CHUM. We met up in the foyer of The Gwynn Hall in Neath for a RIGHT fun afternoon which started off with one of the organisers ORDERING us to go upstairs for CAKE where we met some of the other organisers, actors and writers before sneaking back downstairs again. The cake was nice, but downstairs there was BEER!

The show itself was really good - lots of different stuff and I was EXTREMELY pleased with how nicely mine was done. It was a monologue called "Marjories Meets Gareth, Gareth Meets Marjorie" about a pensioner who gets a call from a phone scammer and very gently changes things around. I loved the way that people CHUCKLED during the first half as they got what was happening, then did so again in the second as they realised how it was turning round. I was very pleased!

We had to do an Audience Vote at the end which was slightly odd as we did it by a show of hands, which meant that you knew EXACTLY how many people, and who, had voted for you! It was all part of the general FUN of the afternoon though, which was done very PERSONALLY by the organisers, not slickly but in its own unique way. At the end the JUDGES came on, talked about which ones they'd enjoyed and then announced that there were TWO winners, one serious (and very good) piece called "Etta's Letter"... and MINE!

"That's mine!" I whispered to Nikki, sat next to me, who did actually KNOW that! I had to go to the front and shake the judges' hands, it was like being on telly although, MERCIFULLY, there were no speeches. Afterwards I went and reported to the chief organiser while she wrote me a BIG FAT CHEQUE for £250 i.e. more money than I have made out of writing - by a LONG way - in the past entire year! "Would you like the congratulations card?" she asked. "It's no trouble" and then went out to her car to fetch it, gave it to me to unwrap from its cellophane, and then wrote it. Like I say, the day had it's own unique way about it!

FLUSHED with success Nikki and I went in search of somewhere to have a VICTORY meal. "It doesn't have to be Weatherspoons" I said but, inevitably, the only place open in town WAS a Weatherspoons. Nikki had never been in one before (at least not to eat) and they pulled out ALL the stops - drunk people asleep outside, plenty of lonely men at tables, uncleaned tables and some screaming kids. It ALSO, to be fair, had quite nice food AND cheap beer, also Excellent Conversation so all was well!

Soon it was time to leave the delights of 'SPOONS and head home, something which took FLIPPING AGES. It was already nearly a four hour journey and it became MORE so with delays - it was like Olden Times, in fact, when trains were ALWAYS late without any announcements. Well, I say there weren't any announcements, one EVENTUALLY came after, as far as i could hear, one of the other staff giving the train manager a RIGHT bollocking about the lack of information. "Manage the bloody train!" he shouted -it was ACE! I could hear all this going on because we were travelling in STYLE in First Class - as it was such a long trip I thought we might as well upgrade, but the ticket inspector never came. HA! Take THAT, The Man - in the words of Keith Top Of The Pops, we Could Not Stop Winning!

posted 30/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Wedding Singer
On Saturday The Trains On My Rails and I were out and about AGANE, this time heading to BRISTOL for the wedding reception of Markie and Vinnie, where I was due to perform a SET.

During the course of the day several people asked if we were staying at The Ibis, almost as if I have gone out about it or something, but as the two of us were going rather than just me we decided to take a step up in the world and booked The Holiday Inn. It was Quite Swanky - we were on the top floor, with a BALCONY!

The DO was happening at The Cube and was EXCELLENTLY signposted, and we arrived to find a venue THROBBING with delightful people, not just the bride and groom but also Mr G Osborn and Mr John Hare, the whole band Bodyheat (also playing), a large slice of The Sheffields, and a whole BUNCH of chums. It was lovely!

Things kicked off with a FILM - this had been a BIG MYSTERY as nobody knew what we'd be watching, but it turned out to be "A Mighty Wind" which was GRATE because a) I'd never seen it b) it was VERY good and also c) IDEAL for being watched by a large group of people who had been involved with BANDS for a long long time. I guess there may usually be MORE LARFS tho, as most audiences wouldn't see it as an ACTUAL documentary!

We then had a BUFFET (done by Gopal's of Indietracks fame!) and some BOOZE and CHAT then filed back to see Gav and John do an EXCELLENT set. When they'd finished I thought "I wonder when I'm on then?" and discovered I was on RIGHT NOW as Vinnie's brother Luke, Master Of Ceremonies, announced me. I DASHED on and did a set which, perhaps fooolishly, had (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock near the start so I got a bit CROAKY with ROCKING OUT. It was all fine apart from that, although I DID have to spend large parts of the rest of the evening RESTRAINING myself from SHOWING OFF. "Yes," I said to myself, "I *have* done a gig this evening, but that is NOT what the whole evening is about - don't start swanning around!"

For LO! what the whole evening was about was The Bride And Groom who made LOVELY speeches, also SONGS and there was much EMOTIONS. Luckily Bodyheat were on hand to ROCK OUT afterwards and they were GRATE, and attracted a crowd of DANCERS (hem hem) who definitely WANTED to get up and dance around and were not just forced to do so by Mr David Leach GRABBING people and making us do it.

The evening gently closed with a DISCO during which I was DELIGHTED that The Songs On My Playlist got the chance to experience some PROPER indie dancing to "Where's Me Jumper?" We said our goodbyes and strolled out, having had a LOVELY evening, only to be PIPPED by a passing car. As it passed we looked round and saw Mr John Hare leaning out of the OsbornMobile holding up not one but TWO bottles of beer - it was THE PARTY CAR!

posted 29/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Crab And Winkle Way
Last Thursday was a most AUSPICIOUS day for LO! it was the BIRTHDAY of The Signs On My Route! We decided to take a day off and go and DO something so we went and did The Crab And Winkle Way, a walk from Canterbury to Whitstable which (mostly) follows the route of an old railway line. We'd heard about it while researching previous trips to Canterbury and it looked like fun, so we thought we'd have a go.

Things got off to a nervous start as we weren't sure where the walk actually BEGAN - the online documentation was a bit hazy about it and, as it turned out, so was a lot of the signage en route. If I'm doing a Named Walking Route I would IDEALLY like it to have signs every ten feet or so, but The Crab And Winkle Way (or "Crab And Winkle Link" as it was sometimes called) had some pretty massive GAPS in it.

Still, we found the start point and set off towards The University Of Kent At Canterbury where we were DELIGHTED to find ourselves walking right through the middle of Freshers' Fayre! It was WONDERFUL - all around us Third Years were trying to cajole Freshers into signing up for their SOCIETIES while nearby signs exorted them to come to the POSTER SALE. All was full of HOPE and POTENTIAL and also FREE PIZZA which we definitely didn't get back in my day, also a BIG WHEEL for some reason, but other than that it was much the same as it ever was.

We strode on, full of joy, and then got lost due to the aforesaid SIGNAGE GAP. After a bit of wandering about we found a route to the actual path of the railway and then spent a couple of hours STOMPING along it, through what turned out to be PRODUCTIVE countryside full of farms, hop plants and poly tunnels, and also BLACKBERRIES. Man alive but there were a lot of blackberries, and they were bloody DELICIOUS. It's a long long time since I last encountered a ripe BRAMBLE and I'd forgotten how BRILLLIANT wild blackberries can be!

Eventually we made it to the edges of Whitstable, which turned out to look like DUDLEY until we reached the sea when it became INDUSTRIAL then more seaside-y as we walked along the seaside towards The Old Neptune pub. Here we sat down for a VERY well deserved pint. Getting UP again was a bit difficult though, as we were KNACKERED.

We staggered into Whitstable Actual, the town centre, which was DEAD chi-chi, full of delightful little shops which, we guessed, were there for the "DFL" (Down From London) set who apparently fill the place. For us two DFL-ers it was time to head home, which we did via Whitstable station where a VERY on the ball young woman at the ticket office sold us the cheapest tickets possible to allow us to go straight home rather than having to go back to Canterbury (a single to Faversham, then we could use the rest of our return to Canterbury Stations: TOP TIP for anyone who's got here via Google!).

It was a BRILLIANT day out but a HECK of a walk which I felt in my legs ALL the next day. This exercise business doesn't half hurt!

posted 28/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Shoe Shop Guys - Politics
Myself and Mr John Dredge have UNLEASHED another video into the world today, and it is THIS one:

It's another one starring The Shoe Shop Guys - i DO like The Shoe Shop Guys, and not just because it involves me shouting "HELLO!" at the top of my voice. Although that is quite a big part of it.

We've got THREE more videos ready and waiting to go over the next few weeks, and we have this very day booked ourselves in to go and film a load more, so with any luck we will be continuing to DELIGHT one and all on a weekly basis for most of the rest of the year. If you'd like to keep totally up to date with them as they EMERGE you can go and LIKE our facebook page or, I guess, just keep checking here every Friday!

posted 25/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Job Hunting
For the past 18 months or so I have had a DELIGHTFUL time Not Going To Work. You know when people (Tories) claim that work is good for you? They are talking out of their arses - NOT going to work is BRILLIANT and you get TONNES more done!

The only downside to not going to work, I have found, is that you don't get PAID. At the start of my sojourn into Basically Retirement this was FINE - I had my REDUNDANCY money (I worked for Birkbeck for 11 years, so I got a LITTLE bit of CA$H) and then those fine folks at the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme gave me sixty five quid a week for a few months for, let's be honest, turning up to a meeting on time, filling in a form, and then not appearing on the unemployment figures. You know when George Osborne goes on about "new businesses" forming? One of those was ME!

However, that has all come to an end now and I am left with my SAVINGS, or rather I am left with what's LEFT of my savings after SPENDING them at a fairly rapid rate. I don't MIND spending savings - after all, having time off to do The Writing was pretty much what I was saving it FOR - but I'd rather not spend the LOT of it and so I am JOB HUNTING again.

"But Mark!" I hear you cry, "What of this The Writing of which you speak? Surely THAT is an income stream?" Theoretically yes, but in actuality: not so much. I mean, I've got loads of The Writing done and I'm very pleased with how it's all gone (see my writing site for EXTENSIVE showing off about it) but it hasn't actually led to much in the way of CA$H. INDEED the most lucrative thing I've done is re-writing the words to popular songs for satirical purposes occasionally for Newsrevue - one time they used one of my songs for three weeks and I got over eleven POUNDS!

THUS I am interrogating jobs.ac.uk, the Universities job site, on a daily basis. I want to go back to academia partly because it's what I know but MOSTLY because the thought of re-starting my USS pensions fills me with EXCITEMENT. Actual, genuine EXCITEMENT - what have I become?!?

I've applied for a few jobs and even have a JOB INTERVIEW next week, so hopefully I'll be able to get something sorted quite soon, and in a funny way I'm kind of looking forward to getting back to it. Filling in applications and re-writing my CV has reminded me of all the interesting stuff I used to do - there's nothing quite as satisfying as getting a multi-layered SQL query to return EXACTLY what you want, right kids? - and I think it would actually be fun to have a reason to do it again. The money, also, would be quite nice, and there's the whole meeting new people, seeing new places and LEARNING new things.

Mostly though it's re-starting my pension, OBVS. Oh BABY!

posted 23/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Welly Stomp
A little while ago we got a flyer inviting us to go to something called "The Welly Stomp". This turned out NOT to be a 70's DANCE revival but instead an invitation to all local residents to join a procession through East Village, where we live, over to The Olympic Park (which we live near - have I mentioned that before?) following a pair of giant WELLIES to what was, basically, a harvest festival. How could we refuse?

So it was that on Saturday morning The Feets In My Shoes and I put our wellies on (the flyer suggested we all wear them) and heading over to nearby Victory Park where things were due to begin. We assumed that ALL residents had received the flyers and so expected a reasonable crowd, so were a bit surprised to find that, apart from the organisers and volunteers carrying the big green papier mache boots, we were the ONLY people there! A few more rolled up just before things got started, but NONE of them were wearing wellies.

And so it was that the two of us ended up at the front of the procession, just behind the giant boots, carrying a Welly Stomp BANNER through the village, across a road, and then into the Olympic Park. Does this make us COMMUNITY HEROES? I rather think it does. Our little procession got to the harvest festival area and the "march" (it did feel like that - I struggled inwardly to stop myself calling for an end to the badger cull throughout) ended in that traditional British activity: a group of adults trying, and largely failing, to remember how The Hokey Cokey goes and then carrying on doing it for a bit too long. The pair of us did our best to join in, but it's a bit difficult when you're holding a banner!
Rupert's Street Vegan Food Van.

Things were going DELIGHTFULLY well, so we went and sat on some hay bales to eat whilst on a nearby stage a "local singer songwriter" (according to the running order) performed a bunch of cover versions. It was all very pleasant and STANDARD, with stuff like "I'm A Believer" and "Here Comes The Sun" and nobody really paying any attention, but then it all went a bit WAYWARD. "Here's a song by the Velvet Underground" he said, and launched into a version of "Who Loves The Sun." It was GRATE! Clearly he had decided that nobody was listening so might as well do what he LIKED - as The Songs In My Set said, he had GONE ROGUE. He did a Smiths song to great acclaim (NB from us) and then an Elliot Smith song, three MORE Smiths songs in a row and finished with "Vegetables" by The Beach Boys (!) and Star Man. It was HILARIOUS and WONDERFUL - we sang along throughout, especially on the Smiths. I think more entertainers should cover The Smiths - most of the other people watching were joining in too, it's the same for people of OUR generation (who are largely the ones dragging kids around such events these days) as it was for our parents singing along to The Beatles when they took us as children. Jamies Whelligan, his name was, as I later found out. He was BRILL!

The sun was out and it felt like SUMMER - I even had a GRASSHOPPER land on me, an actual real-live Grasshopper - and all was well with the world. More of this sort of thing please!

posted 22/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back to Luxembourg!
Sorry for the interruption in Me Going On About Luxembourg last week - I'm sure you were DYING to know about my lovely holiday and wondering if it would stay AMAZING.

Saturday morning certainly started off that way as we sat in our hotel room drinking our way through the mini-bar (it was various JUICES, not alcohol - we are not SAVAGES) and watching the Jeremy Corbyn news. It was BRILLIANT! I will not ADD to the huge pile of WORDS what everyone has said about this whole business... except to say that I am enjoying the irony of millions of political pundits confidently predicting what will happen next when UTTERLY NONE of them had ANY clue that something of this magnitude was going to happen AT ALL. And also that it's a bit bloody rich saying someone can't possibly be electable when HE JUST HAS BEEN.

ANYWAY. We eventually got out of the hotel and popped round to SUBWAY to get an Emergency Back-Up Sandwich for possible Breakfast/Lunch. We found ourselves queueing behind that marvellous breed of person i.e. Someone In A Specific Kind Of Shop Who Doesn't Know How That Specific Kind Of Shop Works. In Subway there are MANY SIGNS (in different languages) telling you HOW IT WORKS. "Pick a bread! Pick a sandwich! Tell us what size!" After five minutes of the people in front of us saying "What is 'tuna'? What sizes do you have? Is it just sandwiches?" I was ready to GO BERZERK.

I didn't go berzerk, which was probably for the best, and eventually we managed to get out and wander into town with our emergency sandwich, in search of the Open Top Bus Tour. As anyone who has EITHER travelled with me OR spoken to me about travelling will know, I am a HUGE exponent of the Open Top Bus Tour - it's a delightful hour in which you get to know how a new city works from the comfort of a BUS. We found the stop but another QUEUE meant we missed the bus, so went back to BEET for a proper breakfast... of... er... BEER. Well, it was gone NOON even in continental time and we WERE on holiday, and did have some COFFEE too. It's healthy!

We went back but missed the NEXT bus too due to a) eating our sandwiches b) looking at the VIEW c) looking at the bus loads of tourists getting off for a FAG and to look at the VIEW, but did eventually get the NEXT one, and it was well worth the wait for LO! it fulfilled all our expectations of showing us where things were and, often, WHY.

That done we went back to Beet for the THIRD time ("Hello again!" they said) for LUNCH and then strolled along what I like to think of as Europe's most beautiful balcony hem hem (OK maybe I am not the first to say that), The Corniche. Luxembourg is basically an island surrounded by a valley all the way round with huge bridges across it. The Corniche goes round the edge with delightful VIEWS across and then at the end of it you can (eventually, after getting lost a bit) find your way back to The Grund, which is the old town in the valley. It was very nice INDEED and we celebrated with MORE BEER.

After that we headed home, our thoughts turning to TEA. One of my main worries about going somewhere NEW is that I don't know where the veggie-friendly places to EAT are, so I'd spent a while before setting off researching restaurants. One place I'd found was The Nirvana Cafe, which appeared to be a veggie friendly Indian restaurant. We went for a look and it turned out to basically be INDIAN VEG i.e. the fantastic place in Islington with a HUGE and DELICIOUS vegan buffet EXCEPT in this case two minutes from our hotel!! We thus filled up plastic cartons with take-away GRUB and headed back to CONSUME it at "home".

It had been a fantastic day and one which, surely, could not be improved. So I thought anyway, but I was wrong - not only was POINTLESS on again, but it had a guest appearance by BASIL FLIPPING BRUSH! Amazing scenes!

Sunday was very much the same - we had a MASSIVE kip, went out to Beet for breakfast (BEER for breakfast! ROCK AND ROLL!) and then decided to do a spot of sightseeing. Many people have said that you can see Luxembourg City in an afternoon and, to be fair, you could very much DO that, though you wouldn't be able to spend quite as much time drinking BEER. We'd been given a tourist WALK leaflet on our first day, so followed that a little while before reaching the STRANGEST part of our trip: The Petrusse Express aka The Train Of Shame.

This was one of those lovely street trains that you always seem to see at RESORTS abroad and we hopped on and plugged in our earphones expecting the usual gentle audio tour describing the sites what we were seeing. What we GOT however was a deeply ODD monologue which, we worked out half an hour in, was narrated by a WATER NYMPH who had married Prince Ziegfriend who (we think) "discovered" the area in 963 and settled there. It was all a bit confusing as she kept saying "Oh my Ziggy! What would you have thought of this had you known?" while we looked around desperately trying to work out what she was on about. It was like a long FRINGE SHOW of POETRY which would occasionally veer into travelogue ("Oh Ziggy! To your left it is the river.") but then more often turn into a weird historical version of EASTENDERS. Large chunks of it featured medieval villagers going "'Ave you 'eard the latest about 'er and 'er soldier fella? 'E's only gone and shot 'imself ain't 'e?" We kept expecting to hear the DOOF DOOFs!

After an hour of that we staggered off BEMUSED and went in search of more THRILLS. These included a BRASS BAND doing a medley of Eric Clapton hits and a miniature railway - the sort you could SIT on. This did NOT have a weird soundtrack AND was free, so we went and had a go. It was three minutes zipping round at HIGH speed and was BRILL!

We finished our tourist walk by going round a big PARK (where the miniature railway was) then up the side of some CLIFFS before heading to the full-size ACTUAL railway station to look at its ROOF, thus completing ALL tourists sights which the tourist office had officially sanctioned. TICK!

HUNGRY from our exertions we went to Luxembourg's ONLY supermarket. Yes, I said ONLY supermarket - we had been walking round for nearly THREE days and though we had seen many bars, cafes and other shops we had seen only ONE shop selling actual food, a dinky little supermarket near the station. Do people in Luxembourg go out all the time like in New York or something? We never found out, but DID buy some crisps and a BEER (HEALTH) before getting ANOTHER Subway sandwich for emergency eating.

Our healthy lifestyle concluded that evening with a trip to the WELL SWANKY hotel bar where we had LUXEMBOURG WINE because we are dead posh. It was lovely and, as well as being sophisticated, we also became Quite Tipsy.

Monday rolled around FAR too quickly and, with a few hours before our flight, we set out to find ANOTHER Veggie restaurant, got a bit lost, discovered it was CLOSED (Luxembourg is MOSTLY closed on Sunday and PARTLY on Monday, it seems), had a bit of cake and coffee somewhere else (NO BEER!) then went and caught the BUS back to the airport. Like pretty much everything else on this particular trip it all went FINE and a couple of hours later we found ourselves back at home, NO PROBLEM.

In summary then: Luxembourg was GRATE, it was PEASY to get to and from and we had a LOVELY time. Put THAT on your posters, Luxembourg Tourist Board!

posted 21/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The History of The World in 2,786,402 Items
As threatened last week, Mr John Dredge and I are today unleashing another new video onto our Facebook channel, the first in a THRILLING new series entitled "The History of The World in 2,786,402 Items". This episode looks at that important historical item, The Five Pound Note, and you can also view it on YouTube, THUS:

This is actually the PILOT episode - we start filming the rest of the series this weekend in fact - and as such we have entered it into the Raindance Dailymotion Web Pilot Competition. It's one of those competitions where people vote for their favourites i.e. everyone SPAMS their chums and says "VOTE VOTE VOTE!" You may notice from the current results that some people have very clearly done exactly this and, while I would of course never dream of trying to rig a competition in a similar way, I WOULD be very grateful if you could VOTE VOTE VOTE and let us win! You can do so by going here and VOTING VOTING VOTING!

VOTE! Please!

posted 18/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Ada Lovelace
We interrupt our planned broadcast ("What I Did On My Holidays Part 2: More Beer") to bring you an exciting EXCERPT from that there Hey Hey 16K musical that I have been going on about so much. It's a video featuring Steve and I performing our potted biography of Ada Lovelace, THUS:

Believe it or not, that's actually me and Steve in wigs, and NOT vintage footage of Actual Ada Lovelace and Actual Charles Babbage! AMAZING but true! We've put it out today (Thursday) because there's a documentary on telly tonight which "tells the story of Ada's remarkable life" and takes an HOUR to do so. It was INDEED a remarkable life but, I thought, one which you can tell perfectly well in just over 2 minutes and STILL have time for some interpretive dance.

I imagine BBC4 will get slightly more viewers than we do, but still, here's our go. We hope you enjoy it - especially the DANCE!

posted 17/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Moien to one and all, and apologies for the lack of MUCH on here over the past few days. The reason for this is simple - i have been to LUXEMBOURG!

A little while ago The Dates In My Diary and I were discussing the idea of going on a late summer HOLIDAY. We went to Majorca for a week back in May but had been planning to go away again in September. Various ideas were suggested (including going back to Majorca because we LIKE it there) but eventually our minds fell upon the idea of LUXEMBOURG because a) neither of us had ever been there, so it would be an ADVENTURE b) it looked pretty do-able in a couple of days c) it turned out to be PEASY to get there. And so, we booked!

Getting there did indeed turn out to be MASSIVELY peasy. Ridiculously so, in fact - we walked approx 4 minutes down the road to our local DLR station and within 20 more minutes were checking in at the airport! We were flying from London City which is TINY and thus a DELIGHT. Most of the other people there appeared to be Professional Business Travellers so we blended in by eating CHIPS and drinking BEER. I think we got away with it.

The flight was with Luxair, making this the first time in YEARS we'd flown with a Proper National Carrier rather than, well, Easyjet, so we were surprised when things like FREE DRINKS turned up. We'd enquired beforehand about GRUB and were told that "there will no be a vegetarian meal". We thought this meant there WOULD be non-vegetarian meals, but actually it meant there were just SNACKS i.e. a bag of pre-sliced apples and a big box of tic tacs! It was LOVELY, especially as we accompanied it with my favourite kind of BEER - the FREE kind - and we even got some BOILED SWEETS for landing. Boiled sweets! It was like taking a plane when it was FANCY!

Luxembourg airport was much the same as City airport i.e. TINY and Luxembourg itself started being nice to us when a lady came and gave us a FREE bus ticket while we were working out the ticket machine. SPOILERS: this was to pretty much set the tone for our whole trip in that it was GRATE!

One very pleasant bus ride and brief stroll through the streets of Luxembourg City and we were at the Sofitel, what we had booked because it was WELL POSH. It got even posher when we went in as they UPGRADED us - it turns out that there IS an advantage to having an Accorhotels Member's card! I've spent the past DECADE using it whenever i've booked into the various Ibises (Ibii) what I have stayed in whilst on the road and never got NOTHING. Clearly my mistake was in not staying in posher hotels.

Once we got in the room we put the telly on and, as it is traditional, discovered that POINTLESS was on. Year ago it used to be "The Weakest Link" that was ALWAYS on when I entered an Ibis, the arrival of Pointless instead has been very much a positive. We spent some time putting things in big cupboards, staring in AMAZEMENT at the huge fancy shower cubicle in the middle of the room, and looking our of the window at the VIEW before deciding to venture out. I'd done some RESEARCH beforehand and found that there were several veggie restaurants in town, so went and found one called BEET which sold falafels, veggie burgers... and that's pretty much it. So that's what we had - also BEER. It was thus a full and very very happy couple of adventurers who wandered back to our hotel, wondering whether things would carry on in this vein. Only TIME (and the next blog entry) would tell...

posted 16/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back To Badgers
Yesterday The Policies In My Manifesto and I headed to The Houses Of Parliament for a Badger Cull protest. What's that you say? You thought that was all sorted out ages ago, and that the massive public outcry coupled with the absolutely huge volume of scientific evidence demonstrating that killing badgers for several thousand pounds a pop in incredibly cruel ways was completely ineffective against TB meant that it had all been stopped? Well yes, yes it had, but the evil shits who are now in full control of the government have decided to bring it back. Why, it's almost as if they actively enjoy killing things or something!

I've been to several of these demoes and they've tended to be the usual slightly haphazard mix of good people doing rambling speeches that other people with diminished hearing (through, say, decades of ROCK) struggle to hear which starts late and massively overruns. THIS one, however, was a cut above, largely because (it seems) it was run by Mr Brian May From Out Of Queen. He ran the whole demo like it was a GIG, COMPERING with extreme effectiveness, getting people up to the microphone for SHORT and PUNCHY speeches and, incredibly, finishing BANG ON TIME! This has never happened before, it was amazing! The Speakers At My Rally suggested that maybe the fact that it was Mr Brian May From Out Of Queen running the show is what MADE people stick to their scripts and speak up. "Crikey!" they must have thought, "I'd best not mess with HIM!"

It was also interesting how HIGH POWERED the Badger protests have become - there were representatives from groups like PETA and Lush as well as the Hunt Sabs and Badger Trust people who've always been there. During the speeches somebody talked about it being one of the biggest animal protection alliances that have ever come about in this country, and it was certainly VERY impressive. It's almost everyone's annoyed about an utterly ludicrous, basically evil, scheme being run entirely contrary to all sense, decency and economics or something.

The funny thing for me, seeing Brian May speak, is that I've never really liked Queen, partly because they were all such massive Tories. However now Brian May seems to have had a complete political turnaround. He talked - rather excellently - about how the Badger Cull is one facet of this shitty evil government, who don't care about anybody or anything else except for their rich friends and are quite happy to destroy the lives of people and/or animals at every turn. "This isn't a niche interest" he said, "it's very much part of the bigger picture."

All the speakers also made the point that us being there DID make a difference - I do always wonder about this, and have tended to favour the view that demoes are more of a MORALE BOOSTER for people who care about the issues - but it seems that in This Social Media Age people TALKING about issues like this is an effective way to counter the apathy and/or lies of the establishment media. Maybe they're right, I certainly hope so , but it definitely acted as a morale booster in political times when GOODNESS KNOWS we need it. As several of them said, we won this fight before and we can win it again. Let's bloody hope so!

posted 9/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Last friday morning was a terrifying reminder of what it's like having an Actual Job in That London. I had to get up at the UNGODLY hour of 7:00am, do my ablutions at high speed, and then get on the TOOB at 8:20am. I have never forgotten how HELLISH it is going on the tube during rush hour in the morning, but many of the HIDEOUS details had escaped me. They all returned during the forty sweaty, bumpy, standing up minutes of GHASTLINESS.

SIDEBAR: in an entirely unrelated matter I am currently job hunting. Does anyone have loads of money to pay someone to sit in a room from aprox 10am to 3pm, looking out of a window? Good pension scheme preferable!

ANYWAY, the reason I was doing all this was that I was booked onto a CONFERENCE for the day - Fantasy/Animation 2015 taking place at Kings College. I'd been ALERTED to it while applying for my PhD as there were several talks directly relevant to my subject matter and as it a) was cheap b) was handy c) looked interesting I thought I'd give it a go.

I was glad I did for LO! it was VERY interesting! It ran from 9am to 7pm and the day mostly FLEW by. I've been to a LOT of conferences in my working life and pretty much ALL of them have been to do with Medical Statistics i.e. one of the very very very LEAST interesting topics you can possibly imagine. Spending a day in the familiar environs of a University Lecture Hall surrounded by academics listening to talks that were often FASCINATING was a really weird experience. I had to keep reminding myself that this WASN'T yet another discussion of applying Baysean methods to analysing compression of morbidity amongst the over 75s (NB I fell into a coma three times typing that sentence) and LISTEN!

When I got home I told The Papers In My Programme about it and it took TWO HOURS to do so as there was so much that was THORT PROVOKING. There were talks about audience perceptions of CGI and animation as different things, world building in the extended Star Wars Universe, the history of computer landscapes, TRANES as a non-space, the politics of CGI zombies, the use of positioning in 3D animation as part of storytelling, feminism and evolutionary theory in "Tangled", and using quantum ideas of the multiverse to define "fantasy". It was GRATE!

There were also some talks that were a little LESS fascinating - some people seemed to think "Oh right, I shall just READ OUT an essay wot I wrote, that will DO" - and I was reminded that academics seem to think that the more multi-syllabular words they can get in a row the BETTER. MOREOVER they all say MOREOVER at the start of every sentence.

Despite that (and partly because of the fun of realising that ALL academics do these things) it was a BRILLIANT day that more than made up for the AGONY of having to get the tube there. It even made me a bit excited about getting back into academia at some point - quick! to jobs.ac.uk!

posted 8/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Dredge/Hibbett Facebook Conunundrum
Today Mr John Dredge and I are launching the latest facet of our mighty collaboration - it's The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum Facebook Channel!

The idea is that this'll be the central point for all our new videos as they come out, along with a regular supply of the OLD ones what we've already done. We're planning to release something new every week and we've already got five weeks worth of stuff in the bank ready to roll out, with a bunch of other stuff to be filmed soon. This is basically what I've been up to in all those filming blogs over the past couple of months, storing up HILARITY ready to UNLEASH it this month, once John had finished his latest series of excellent podcasts and Steve and I had got back from doing Hey Hey 16K in Edinburgh.

The first new video on the channel is one of my favourites - The Shoe Shop Guys!

This is also available on our YouTube channel, but it's the Facebook Channel that we'll be concentrating on for updates and so forth. As I say there's a TONNE more stuff to come over the next couple of months, so stay tuned for DELIGHT!

posted 7/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Another Final Night
After all the excitement and emotion of the last night of Hey Hey 16K at The Camden Fringe on Saturday, Sunday found me heading out for ANOTHER last night at The Camden Fringe. This time it was the grand finale of London Calling", the portmanteau/sketch show what me and some of my chums from Lost City Writers had written.

As mentioned the other day I am RIDDLED with guilt about this show due to not having been around to do much to help make it happen, so was hoping to be of USE on this particular evening. However it turned out that I was pretty much surplus to requirements as, five days in, everything was working pretty smoothly. All there was for me to do really was to set up my video camera to record proceedings and sit back and watch.

It was QUITE a thing to see - months ago a bunch of us had sat in a meeting room and discussed slinging a few short plays/sketches together into something about a London radio station and LO! now here I was watching it actually happening, with proper actors and director and tech guy and EVERYTHING. It was all hugely SWISH and I felt delighted to be part of it. It's always fascinating to see how things change from when you (or indeed someone you know) sat down and typed it out to a bunch of completely other people performing it. It's a bit weird really - loads of things happen that you never expect, and some don't happen that you did!

Once it was all over there were congratulations and drinks but mostly there was tidying up and dashing for trains - we're having a get together in a few weeks time when, hopefully, I can get the full debrief on everything that happened and What We Have Learned from the experience. I learnt a metric TONNE just from watching it, so goodness knows what everybody else got from actually DOING it!

posted 2/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Return To Camden
This weekend found Steve and I back in Camden. It's an area of London I don't particularly like very much but it DOES contain something I enjoy very much - the Camden Fringe, for which marvelous organisation we there to do our traditional post-Edinburgh lap of honour of two more performances of Hey Hey 16K at The Camden Head. Here is the executive summary: it went quite well.

Friday night got off to a good start with various delightful people turning up, and us playing the ever popular game of "Who's here for our show?" I spotted a man in a ZX Spectrum jumper who I correctly guessed was one of ours, but then later spotted Ms A Nunn in a "Your Sinclair" t-shirt and assumed she was coming as well. It turned out that she'd just so happened to wear it that day but, as she is so POLITE, decided to come and see the show anyway. Hoorah!

It was a GRATE crowd who were so VAST that we had to put some extra chairs out! It included some people from Peterborough, so for the first time EVER there was a CHEER when that city was mentioned, and somebody SQUEALED with excitement when I said "Stamford". It was also an audience containing people who a) were very familiar with ZX Spectrums but b) had never heard the song "Hey Hey 16K" before. I can always spot them because they laugh at the "R:Tape Loading Error" bit!

It was a lot of fun to do, but it all felt a bit quiet - maybe this was because I was only just emerging from POORLINESS, but I resolved to be LOUDER the next day. Come Saturday we both WERE louder, possibly because we were playing up to THE CAMERA, as we were filming it for our traditional Record Of Events, ready for if we ever need to re-learn it. It wasn't as big a crowd but they were just as lovely, and it was a very enjoyable one to - for now - go out on.

I say "for now" because we had a DEBRIEF afterwards during which Mr Hewitt and I agreed to see if we could book a few more shows. It's SUCH a delightful 50 minutes to perform that I feel it would be a terrible shame not to do it a bit more, especially now that we've nearly learnt it!

With that done we gathered our Significant Others and went over the road to fulfil another tradition - the end of run curry at Maharani. It was BRILLIANT!

posted 1/9/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Knees x 2
One of the FRUITS of my meeting with Mr J Dredge was the decision to consider re-un-de-writing part of our History-based webseries. We've had a couple of goes of filming it already - back in May we went to Hampstead Heath to film some Outside Scenes but couldn't get the sound right, so a few weeks later we tried again with a re-written INSIDE version. It all looked fine but we decided to have one more go to get it PERFECT, and it was while sorting through some WIRES as props for London Calling that I realised that I had an Actual Microphone which we might be able to use to get outside sound WORKING.

It's a KRAZY scheme - using a microphone to record sound?!?! - so we agreed that I'd try it out first to see if it worked before we went round re-doing stuff again.

Now, I could, obviously, just stand outside and say "This is a test to see if it works" but then again I could ALSO make a whole video thing instead, couldn't I? I spent about 0.02 seconds wondering WOT to do then remembered I had a small POEM called "You Need Knees" what I had written for the aforesaid 'London Calling' (tickets still available!) but didn't get used. It was my FAVOURITE thing I'd done so I thought "HA! Its time has come!"

So it was that yesterday afternoon I stepped out into The Olympic Village (it's where I live, OK? I wish people would stop going on about it) carrying a bag of camera and audio gear, dressed in my WEDDING CLOTHES... and short trousers. I felt like a bit of a pillock so had asked The Sole Of My Shoes to come along with me a) for moral support and b) because she's really good at camera FRAMING and all that. At one point I confessed to feeling a bit daft, but she told me not to worry. "We're in East London - they'll all be dressing like that next week."

We then spent a delightful 15 minutes filming before scuttling home to see what it looked like. The first bunch of shots looked GRATE, altho something seemed awry with the recording as it appeared to have picked up a lot of BICKERING. Where on earth did that come from?

The next piece of film however contained a final section which went like this:

VOICE: (off camera) It's not recording.
IDIOT: (in shorts) I thought it was?
VOICE: No, it's not.
IDIOT: Hang on, let me have a look
(he moves behind camera)
IDIOT: Oh yeah, you're right there. Here -

And that was all there was! So, a couple of hours later, we went BACK out and did the whole thing AGANE! This time we just left everything recording throughout and WHISKED through it, allowing me to come home and spend a happy hour or so editing together things like THIS:


The final video is slightly ODD I must admit, but I do rather like it. It may end up just as a test or it may come out as part of the forthcoming series of FILMS that John and I are going to do, but whatever happens, we will always have the KNEES. Because, after all, You! Need! Knees!

posted 28/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Tech Rehearsal
After three long days basically sat in bed I emerged from the flat on Wednesday and headed into town. My first taste of The Outside World was a bit strange - had it ALWAYS been this wet? I'm pretty sure I hadn't lived underwater before being poorly, had I?

My first port of call was a meeting with Mr J Dredge which was, as ever, EXCELLENT and full of schemes and LARFS. I'd intended to then go for a bit of a wander round comic shops and so forth but still felt a bit FEEBLE so instead had a) a cup of tea in Pret nearby then b) a COKE in a pub in Islington (where I forgot the golden rule of buying soft drinks in pubs i.e. say "no ice!" or you're basically paying DOUBLE) before heading to The Hen & Chickens for the TECH REHEARSAL of London Calling, the SHOW what my Writers' Group (oh yes) have done.

To be honest I am pretty much RIDDLED with guilt about this show. A LOT of work has been going on by my lot over the past few weeks while I was SWANNING ABOUT up in Scotland and then THIS week, when I'd hoped to at least show my face and CARRY things a bit, I have been almost entirely in BED. Thus I was very grateful to have an ALLEN KEY thrust into my hand almost as soon as I arrived and be able to start putting together Bar Stools and then, when that was done, get a screwdriver and GO AT at a very very delapidated ironing board and try to make it stand up again. It felt good to be DOING something, though I was also very glad that I'd brought a clean shirt with me as I got a RIGHT old sweat on!

There then followed the Tech Rehearsal itself. This is when they go through the show with the technician, sorting out all the lighting cues, sound cues, and PROPS. I have just come from a fortnight of shows where the cues are as follows: "1) LIGHTS ON 2) LIGHTS OFF (OPTIONAL)" so I was stunned by how much was going on. It was DAZZLING, to be honest, a right proper use of all the Theatrical Elements for a fully fledged THING. Also there were GAGS and DANCING and all sorts, it looked brilliant!

Afterwards everyone else looked a bit worried and/or unsure, almost as if they'd spent several weeks working on it rather having just rolled up to go "OOH! LIGHTS!" I tried to say that it ALWAYS feels like this, that the tech run IS just a tech run, that it always feels like everything's going to fall apart just before you start and that, within five hours everything would feel BRILLIANT but, like saying "Don't worry!" to someone who is worried, it never really helps.

So instead of doing too much of that I said my farewells and headed home. I did have a ticket for that evening's show but I was EXTREMELY aware that I was by no means at full health and that I had more performances of Hey Hey 16K to get through at the weekend, so thought that going home was the wisest course of action. I'm going to see the final night on Sunday, so hopefully I will be at PEAK FITNESS by then!

Tickets for both shows, by the way, are VERY MUCH available. "London Calling" is on at The Hen & Chickens every night at 7:30pm until Sunday 30 August and you can buy tickets HERE. "Hey Hey 16K", meanwhile is on at The Camden Head at 6:30pm on Friday 28 and Saturday 29 August and you can buy tickets here. Two shows on in London town at the same time? This must be how Andrew Lloyd Webber feels!

posted 27/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Meanwhile In San Marino
Since getting back from Edinburgh I have spent most of my time being POORLY. It wasn't exactly how I'd envisioned my glorious return but at least it happened AFTER we'd done the shows, and allowed me to spend ALL of my time in the flat!

As ever, when you've been away for a couple of weeks, I returned to find there had been CHANGES, notably a series of PLAQUES which have gone up in the entrance hallways of all the blocks of flats in The Olympic Village (i.e. where I live but you probably wouldn't know that as I don't like to go on about it). These plaques list the teams that STAYED in the buildings when they WERE the actual Athlete's Village, which is BRILLIANT. One of the first questions people ask when you tell them - I mean, when you are reluctantly forced to reveal - that you live here is "Ooh! Who lived in your flat?" but nobody has ever officially told us before. I don't know why - clearly they know, and it's not like it's a security risk, but it's taken nearly two years of gentle prodding from residents for them to reveal who was in what building.

Finding out who was in which FLAT, however, is still a "secret", although some of us had already done DETECTIVE WORK. There's loads and loads of photographs of the village during the games and if you're prepared to sit and go through THE LOT (e.g. if you had, say, a job when you first moved in that, technically, had run out of things to do months before) you could eventually track down a picture of your flat and, if you were lucky, it would have a FLAG draped over the balcony. Our flat DID and, after a bit more in-depth research (looking at wikipedia) we worked out that some athletes from San Marino had been here.

This was very much CONFIRMED by the plaque so a few days ago I did a bit more research (googling) and discovered that, in all likelihood, it wasn't just *some* of the athletes from San Marino that stayed here, it was THE ENTIRE NATIONAL TEAM!! There were obly four of them - Clelia Tini (100m freestyle swimming), Alessandra Perilli (tap shooting), Martina Pretelli (100m sprint) and Emanuele Guidi (individual archery). Two even more exciting realisations come from this - firstly that we NEARLY had a medallist in the flat (Mr Guidi came 4th in the archery final) and secondly, and more importantly, Ms Pretelli MUST be the person who wore her spikes inside the flat one day and caused the damage to the floor in our hallway that is logged in our inventory!

We were both VERY excited to discover this - it finally puts faces to the vague idea of "athletes" who were here before us and, of course, gives us someone to blame if our landlords discover any more discrepancies next time they visit. "Yes, I know there are Blu Tac marks all over the wall, it must be those Sammarinese again!"

posted 26/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Final Furlong
Friday morning began with a choice. On the one hand, I was taking part in the biggest arts festival in europe with literally hundreds of performances to choose from and all I had to do was leave the house to find them. On the other hand, the Horror Channel were showing Tom Baker's last two episodes of Doctor Who, and it *does* feature Tegan, who we mention quite a bit in Hey Hey 16K.

It was thus quite late in the afternoon when I eventually strode out into daylight and stomped once more to our venue, where I found Steve stood outside talking to what would turn out to be all three of our audience! It's been really weird this time how much audience levels have fluctuated, but I must admit I quite enjoy playing to small crowds (it is, after all, mostly what I'm used to), especially when they're as nice as this particular trio were.

After a post-show pint I scuttled home again to drop off gear before returning to meet Steve and Ms A King in The Blue Blazer - how had it taken me over TWO WEEKS to make it to the Blue Blazer?!? Here we were joined for more PINTS by Mr F Wadsworth and a FINE old time was had by all until Steve and I decided to decamp for our traditional Indie Disco trip. This time we bestowed our DANCING SKILLZ on Citrus which was EXACTLY what an indie night should be: a sticky black box containing music and beer! We DARNCED and had some BEER but by 2am I felt SATED, and left Mr Hewitt to his BOOGYING.

Saturday got off to quite a SLOW start, possibly due to the antics of the night before, but once we were both mostly mobile Steve and I spent a jolly hour or so buzzing round the flat TIDYING things. The main part of this was putting TONNES of flyers that we'd collected over the preceeding fortnight in a bag with the TONNES of flyers we'd still got left for OUR show and then lugging the LOT down to the recycling place. It is a Fringe Tradition!

By the time we'd done all that it was nearly show time, so we mooched into town to be faced with our biggest audience yet, PACKED with friendly faces. It was GRATE fun, even if we DID have to stop a couple of times to ask a bunch of old regulars stood at the bar to keep their voices down, but it was a LOVELY way to finish the run. Afterwards we went to Bannermans with said array of chums for a MARVELOUS couple of hours of CHAT and LARFS before heading over to Summerhall, where we had our final pair of tickets booked .

It was TIPPING it down with rain as we strode over, and we considered ourselves VERY lucky that the weather had held out this long - it's been the sunniest Fringe I've ever been to, I reckon. Some years it's LOBBED it down with water every day, but this time I almost got sunburnt! We dashed through the precipitation to see Josie Long and Grace Petrie do their "Alternative Reality Tour" show in a Big Yurt, and it was ACE. We were sat behind Owen Jones AND Mark Steel, it was like being at the centre of THE COUNTER CULTURE!

HUGS and back to the flat and then, all too few hours later, we were getting up EARLY to get our taxi to the station and HOME. The journey back was one of TWO parts - the first HORRIBLE as the air conditioning was broken and the carriage was HOT and STINKY, the second DELIGHTFUL as we moved to another, cool and fragrant, one.

Then suddenly we were back in London and it was DONE! We hugged our goodbyes and went home again, with (I think) a very succesful Fringe behind us. I'll leave the full analyses until after this weekend's shows in Camden but I think, overall, it's been the best one we've done, certainly in terms of audience and definitely in terms of everyone understanding the plot - unlike every other year, NOBODY has asked me to explain it this time!

posted 25/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Getting About A Bit
Wednesday morning found Steve and I rising at an UNGODLY hour so we could leave the house at 11:45am to catch a bus. That's basically still night-time, right? We were headed for Leith to do an interview for Shore Radio and, on the way, were reminded once again that people round here are NICE. The man in front of us had overheard us saying what stop we needed, so a couple of minutes before we got there he turned round and alerted us that it was the next stop. He then got slightly embarrassed and moved away.

The station had sent us some BRILLIANT directions, ending with "It's behind the Dockers' Social Club, top floor" which indeed is where it was. We stood and listened to the interviewees before us - some EXTREMELY posh and confident young men who DELIGHTED us - and then went in for a HUGELY enjoyable 15 minutes of chat. I knew it was going to be fun when Mr Ewan Spence, host, came out to greet us wearing an old Need To Know t-shirt, and my suspicions were confirmed when he asked about a) the Blinovitch Limitation Effect and b) what REALLY happens when you get to the end of Jetpac. It was GRATE, and you can listen for yourself on the Edinburgh Fringe podcast site.

With that done I headed home as I had some more WRIIITING to do, and also some GOOGLING of "Hey Hey 16K" (last 24 hours). I've been doing this every day to monitor our MEDIA PRESENCE - usually nothing much comes up, so I was surprised/delighted to find that we'd had a review in Broadway Baby. The first time I read it I was ENRAGED - there totally ARE 20 things in 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 and how can anyone not be aware of what D:Ream sound like?!? They were played all the time in 1997 and that's... oh. Right. However, on re-reading it I realised it's quite nice - though I doubt that will stop Steve and I RAILING against the "not 20 things" accusation!

The above mentioned RAILING was part of a very enjoyable show that evening, which was followed by some very enjoyable drinks and then a trip to Sweet Grassmarket, where I discovered that The International Hotel (which that particular venue lives in) is an OASIS of CALM. I met with Mr F Wadsworth to go and see "Matt Abbot Is Skint And Demoralised", and it was EXCELLENT - funny and moving and all round GRATE!

On Thursday morning I went to see MORE Spoken Word as I finally managed to get out of bed in time to see John Osbourne's show. It also was funny and moving and all round GRATE, so much so that I done bought a BOOK. It's funny, I seem to have enjoyed spoken word MUCH more than anything else this Fringe - perhaps that is something to think about for... THE FUTURE!

I'd been joined by Steve for the show, fresh from dropping Mrs Hewitt off at the station, and after walking into town we briefly divided forces - him to go flyering, me to pop to the comic shop and then to fail to make it in time to see a show about Ada Lovelace. We regrouped in the Pleasance Courtyard, where I queued up to see "Bat-Fan" and he flyered the queue of people waiting to see "Bat-Fan", using the fact that I'd bought a ticket as evidence that it would be suitable viewing for others who'd done the same - this seemed to work, as I'm sure I recognised people from the queue later on at our show!

"Bat-Fan" itself was BRILLIANT - full of SONGS and JOKES and above all ENTIRELY ACCURATE with regards to Batman history. I was really impressed, it was one of the most fun things I'd seen all fortnight.

I zoomed home again for GEAR and then STOMPED back to town for show time, and WHAT a show it was. We had probably our biggest audience of the whole run so far and they LARFED throughout - even at things that nobody had laughed at before! It was HUGELY enjoyable, and Steve and I celebrated by staying in the venue and watching "Anecdotes In The UK", the show after us. We'd been chatting to Steffan and Phil, the two stand-ups who were in it, every day when we finished, and they seemed so nice that we ought to give them a go. I'm glad we did, as it was GRATE - they were both really funny and engaging, it was ACE!

Thus it was that, after a quick visit to the Bow Bar, I returned to the flat very happy indeed - I'd done a good show, SEEN three brilliant shows, and only had three sleeps to go until I could head home to my own bed. WINZ!

posted 21/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Still Here!
It feels like FOREVER since I was last at home, but the Edinburgh Fringe just keeps on going. Over the past few days I have done the following things:

On Sunday I walked out of a YURT after 20 minutes of a show I wasn't enjoying. It's difficult to leave a Yurt surreptitiouslly at the best of times, but even more so when you have a large bag, a guitar, and a sparkly pink Hula Hoop. Our show was lovely, and then I dashed down the road to take part in Stand Up Tragedy. I did my best to fit the bill by, basically, during my usual intros to songs and fitting the word "tragedy" in whenever I could - I think it went OK but you can judge for yourself by listening to the podcast, THUS:

After that I collected The Ends Of My Bookends from another show and we went off to meet The Parents for A Tribute To The Music Of Simon & Garfunkel. This was NOT, as the chaps involved made abundantly clear, a tribute act with wigs etc, but rather two blokes doing EXTEMELY lovely versions of Simon & Garfunkel songs. After a day of dashing about in a very very busy Edinburgh it was just what the ROCK doctor ordered.

Next day we went to have a look at The Scottish Parliament - The Parents had been the day before and reported that it was GRATE, and they were right. It's no wonder all those SNP MPs have been rebelling against the strictures of Westminster, the Scottish version is MUCH better. It almost looks like a place people might debate and CHANGE things efficiently. They've got computers and EVERYTHING!

Suitably inspired we went for a walk up Arthur's Seat and, as ever, MARVELLED at the fact that Edinburgh has a RUDDY GREAT MOUNTAIN in the middle of it!

After celebrating this fact at Hendersons "Fringe Pop-Up" veggie cafe (LOVELY) we went home then I headed out again to do our show. It was a GRATE crowd, and Steve noticed that quite a few people had LANYARDS on and some had even been before. We agreed that this DEFINITELY meant that we were TOTALLY being judged for the PERRIER award. It's the only possible explanation!

I rounded off a DELIGHTFUL day by meeting The Hits In My Canon at the Cafe Royal, from whence we went to The Voodoo Rooms to REVEL in the GLORY of Mr John Otway. There were NEW BITS of the set - AMAZING SCENES! We recovered back in Cafe Royal with my delightful nephew Felix and also The Hewitts. Towards the end of the evening I felt QUITE SQUIDDLY, I can only assume it was the MOUNTAIN AIR going to my head!

On Tuesday my SISTER was in town along with my brother-in-law and FOUR entire NEPHEWS. The Members Of My Clan and I had a LOVELY meet-up with them before we had to head off to put the aforesaid Seats In My Carriage on a TRAIN, for LO! her time in Edinburgh had drawn to a close.

As she sped South I stomped back to the flat through mizzling rain that pretty much matched my mood i.e. a bit GLUM, but then I realised that this meant that I too would soon be heading home. I got back to the flat, picked up my bags, and headed straight out again to do the show.

We have PRIDED ourselves on always having double figures for our audience, and this time we continued that tradition... sort of. Here's a picture of our entire audience:

This is Jack and Leia! They didn't know each other before they turned up, but we all become PALS by the end of a (i thought rather good) show - they even sat together to share the lyrics sheet! It could have been a bit miserable but they were a GRATE audience and made it a DELIGHT to perform. HOORAH!

My next appointment was down the road at Canon's Gait, where I was taking part in "Chris Coltrane Tries To Learn How To Pronounce The Word Squirrel." I'm not QUITE sure even now what was going on, but basically I ended up HULA HOOPING for 60 seconds and then, apparently, breaking all the rules of the show by saying "Squirrel" out loud and pronouncing it correctly. At the end Mark Thomas came on, said hello, then left the stage - it was that sort of evening!

Still saddened by my solo status I popped into M&S for some COMFORT FOOD, then came home to do MORE WORK - including writing a JINGLE about the Olympics for London Calling, catching up on some ADMIN, and doing a laundry load. The glamour of Fringe life, it never ends!

posted 20/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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The Big Bang (part two)
In amongst all this dashing about seeing shows and being IN shows I've also been doing some actual WORK of a WRITING kind. My laptop's set up in the living room so that, as well as writing these blogs of deathless prose, I can also work on some bits and pieces for the forthcoming run of London Calling.

This is a new show written by ME and several chums from the Lost City Writers group (who did 'The Sexy Seven' back in February) featuring various shorts, sketches and even SONGS, all based around the story of a London radio station. Amazingly, we've got Charles Savage, a right proper Director with years of experience, to direct it for us, and he's trying to USE the writers actively, getting us to go to rehearsals and write stuff on the spot. It's all very exciting, apart from the fact that I'm several hundred miles away, but I'm trying to keep up with various assignments, like writing "jingles" for parts between sketches. I'm very much looking forward to seeing how it's all going when I get back next week, and if you'd like to see for yourself you could always come along and SEE it - it's on at The Hen & Chickens in London town from Wednesday 26 to Sunday 30 August, and tickets are very much available!.

While all that's been going on I've also had some OTHER exciting Writing News, as I've got to the semi-finals of the Scriptapalooza TV competition with a spec script for 'The Big Bang Theory'. I'm especially chuffed because last year I entered a different script and got into the quarter-finals - as Mr P Baran has pointed out, all I need to do is enter a few more times and by 2017 I'll have WON it - who can argue with THAT?

posted 19/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Shoes Day
Saturday was a day of SHOES, and not just because there was a lot of STOMPING about. It began with seeing "Card Ninja", a show where a man threw cards around. It was GRATE - he did all sorts of SKILLZ and also GAGS, it made me think EVEN LESS of comedians who just try and talk to the audience and then make remarks. Comedians! Learn some SKILLZ!

Next we went to see a comedian who ... well, did that, but was FINE. He was on in Cowgatehead, scene of MANY ructions and disputes between different Free Fringe organisations. It was actually a pretty good place to use for shows, but CRIKEY somebody really needs to sort out some SIGNAGE. It was full of people wandering around without a CLUE as to where they were. Also, someone put their SHOES on my coat, i was MIFFED!

Edinburgh, by the way was PACKED with people - it's almost as if it was a Saturday when it wasn't raining, as EVERYONE was out and about on the streets. This meant the shows we'd seen were really full, though in both cases The Bums On My Seats and I managed to LUCK OUT and find two seats together when everyone else was crowding round the back. HA!

Other, sensible, people with shows on would be PLEASED at the idea of there being loads of people round looking for shows to see, but I was PANICKING, convinced we'd get a room full of rowdy stag dos and/or people just chatting loudly expecting Stand Up rather than our ART. As it turned out we did end up having a LOT of people in, including PARENTS and... it was lovely! I'd worried that some people sat at the front had put their shoes up on stage, like they were CLAIMING it, but it turned out that they were just RELAXING and DELIGHTFUL, which is pretty much how the show went too. Hoorah!

That done we went our various ways, with The Money In My Bucket and I going to see a show called "ONEymoon", about a woman marrying herself. It was all right - you could have done most of it in a ten minute sketch, but there WAS a tap dancing finale (SHOES) and there was an AMAZING bit where she got some guy out of the audience hem hem and asked him to be the Celebrant. Who was this YOUNG man who seemed to be perfectly happy on stage? I cannot say but I predict MORE shows for him in future, possibly at 6:15pm for the rest of this week.

After all that we regrouped EN MASSE back at The Albanach, where we seem to be going most every night at the moment, for slightly more PINTZ than expected. It feels very MUCH like we're on the downhill slope of the Fringe now, and it's all the more fun for it!

posted 19/8/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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