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A Very Valid Christmas BOGOF
At this festive time of year one's thoughts turn to two things: firstly, what on earth are we buying for family members' presents and, secondly, what albums have come out this year that I can pretend to have listened to for some kind of spurious 'Best Of' list?

Luckily for you, gentle reader, I can answer BOTH those questions in one go with ADDED EXTRA free gifts for you yourself! "Don't be an INSANIANC Hibbett", I hear you splutter, "NO MAN can solve both these problems at once!"

To which I reply "That's a bit harsh, couldn't you at least read on to the next paragraph?" for LO! it is here that I reveal the reasoning behind my KRAZY CLAIMS. Our album, Still Valid may SEEM like a timeless classic but it was only actually released in July of this year and it ALSO makes the PERFECT Christmas gift for young or old! All right, maybe it makes a bit MORE of a perfect Christmas gift for people in their late, late, "late twenties" who will more likely appreciate some of the ADULT THEMES contained within, but still: I guarantee(*) that it will delight ANYONE who unwraps it on Christmas morning!

"But what of this free gift?" you may add, not having learnt lessons from the previous paragraph's advice to wait for further information. Fear not, my hasty friend, for there is an AMAZING SPECIAL OFFER where you can buy a copy of Still Valid and get a copy of ANY(**) of our other albums thrown in COMPLETELY FOR FREE! You can give THIS to your gift receiver as an extra present, hand it on to somebody else, or even KEEP IT as a reward for your own Yuletide Gift Management SKILLZ - the choice is yours!

However you decide to use this AMAZING SPECIAL OFFER I hope it brings festive JOY to you and all your family. If anybody takes advantage of it then it will certainly bring some to ME!

(*) "Guarantee" used here in the political sense i.e. not really a guarantee, more of a hope. Although it's definitely A LOT MORE of a guarantee than anything to do with Brexit.
(**) Any that I've still got copies left of anyway... which is most of them.

posted 6/12/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic RETURNS!
Last Thursday saw the glorious return of Totally Acoustic just in time for CHRISTMAS. It also saw the glorious return of me WALKING there from work, which has not happened for several YEARS. It only took me SIX minutes to get from my desk to the bar, it was FANTASTIC!

I arrived to find various members of A Little Orchestra also arriving so we went upstairs and started getting set up. With tables placed I went downstairs to find Mr FA Machine rolling in and then, almost immediately after him, Mr T "Tiger" McClure and Ms C Birkby. Here something STRANGE happened - Tom took his coat off and put his bags down. "Why don't we just take it all upstairs?" I said and he looked at me PERPLEXED, as if he had never even BEEN to The King & Queen before. I was astounded - I had assumed he had, but NO, apart from Frankie this was to be the first time ANY Validators had been there! KRAZY!

Upstairs Tom was invited to join A Little Orchestra for the evening as they were a couple of violinists down, and he did NOT take much persuading! Myself, Frankie and Christina went back downstairs for the next half an hour while he practice with them, and we were joined by a VARIETY of pals, including The Hewitts and, before too long, The Pattisons. Tim entered wearing his new CAJON drum on his BACK - EVERYONE had come on TRANES to the gig, another FIRST in YEARS of gigging. If we could do ALL gigs like this it would be AMAZING - think of the BEER we could get down us!

Soon we were all gathered, all except for Mr B Bailey, AKA The Boy In The Cupbaord. Ben lives in BRIGHTON, which means of course that it is IMPOSSIBLE for him to get trains due to Southern Rail being UTTERLY USELESS. He sent an apologetic message detailing his various THWARTED PLANS to get up to the big city, including a trip to HOVE. It was a right shame, but we'll get him back another time!

The night kicked off, as ever, with The Theme Song. I didn't notice at the time, but The Notes In My Melody later pointed out to me that the TUNE had subtly CHANGED. It was fine when I demonstrated it, but then when we did the practice run through some people sang a note differently towards the end which changed the whole final line. AMAZINGLY everyone else went along with it as it was happening, and then everyone repeated the changed tune when we did the "proper" version for recording! As she stated, it was FASCINATING the way that everybody ADAPTED as it was going along and (including me) just accepted that that's how it would be. MUSIC everybody!

After that it was my turn to do a couple of songs. I'd brought an actual MUSIC STAND so that i could do a NEW song -
  • Cheer Up Love - without panicking over the words. It seemed to go OK, so then I did a couple from The Back Catalogue: Red and White Sockets and Hey Hey 16K, neither of which I'd practiced AT ALL but seemed to get through pretty well. Maybe NO practicing is the way forward, or perhaps it is the simple PRESENCE of a Music Stand that makes me remember WURDZ better?

    After a short break A Little Orchestra introduced me introducing THEM and we were off for a GLORIOUS half hour of songs, featuring a tribute to Mr L Cohen, some jewish folk music, and the inevitable (at this time of year) CHRISTMAS SONGS. It was utterly utterly lovely - they always are, that's why I asked them to play the Christmas show!

    Their set concluded with the first of two collaborations with US i.e. The Validators. We did a version of "Merry Little Christmas Time" that was pretty darn MAGICAL. We'd worked out a whole STAGING of it which involved other Validators strolling in for the second verse and then handing out MINCE PIES. It all went really well except that you can hear quite a LOT of Mince Pie taking and eating through the middle of the song! As the aforementioned Pie In My Tin said later on, it felt and sounded a bit like a SCHOOL PLAY i.e. SUPER CHRISTMASSY. It'll be edited and released as this year's contribution to the Christmas Selection Box SOON!

    Finally it was time for The Validators to take to the stage - here's what we did:
  • One Last Party (with A Little Orchestra)
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • Mental Judo
  • In The North Stand
  • Easily Impressed
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Advent Calendar Of FACT
  • We Did It Anyway

  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • It went really well! There was singing along, there were a LOT of remarks and there was... PLAYING MUSIC! I'm sure you're thinking "But Mark, surely that's what happens at all Validators gigs?" and you would be correct, but this time, with everything at audible, correct levels and no pre-determined way of playing the songs it felt like we were all LISTENING to each other and reacting, like some kind of MUSICIANS. It was sort of beautiful!

    There was also a lengthy discussion of which 'Parks And Recreation' characters we would be, a break for STOLLEN (which I think was probably better for the band, who were eating stollen, than the audience, who were perplexed), and a GLORIOUS bass solo during In The North Stand. It WORKED, basically, it really WORKED and when it was all over we all agreed that we would have to do it this way again!

    The only thing even vaguely moving towards "wrong" during the evening was that there were almost TOO MANY lovely people there and I didn't get a chance to TALK properly to lots of them e.g. Mr R Kirkham had come and I hardly got to say ANYTHING to him!

    Other than that all was delightful, including WHISKY before heading home. It's really really good to have Totally Acoustic back, the next one's in January, the first Thursday in 2017 - you should come along!.

    posted 5/12/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    It's Advent!
    Today is the first day of ADVENT which means that it is FINALLY Christmas! I know different people have different ideas about this, but I reckon that THIS year especially the planet Earth NEEDS some Christmassy cheering up. Chez Nous it has been a trial to wait THIS long, to be honest, but I sincerely believe that the day that the first door on the advent calendar is opened is the day that you can get out the Bob Dylan Christmas CD and GET CHRISTMASSY!

    Talking of Advent Calendars and ROCK, I'm very happy to report that the first door in the JoyZine Advent Calendar is not only OPEN but has behind it a BRAND NEW song by US - Leaping Hare In Broadgate!

    This was recorded for Still Valid but was never used, so has lain FALLOW until now. I'm very happy to see it finally out in the wild, as I think it is Quite Funky! It's accompanied today by a wonderful, and properly Christmassy, track from Piney Gir too - go and have a listen, it's FAB, and will be followed by LOADS more songs all the way up to the 24th.

    Now, if you will excuse me I have a whole HEAP of Mince Pies and STOLLEN to take to Totally Acoustic tonight. I cannot WAIT!

    posted 1/12/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    On The World Tonight
    On Monday evening I was PUZZLED by a tweet from Mr J Grayson saying "Was that really a quick blast of @MJHibbett on Radio 4's The World Tonight just then?" Very occasionally people say things like this and, like UFOs, there is almost always a more reasonable explanation e.g. when a member of my family says "I've just heard you on the radio!" you can pretty much bet that they have heard Billy Bragg!

    THUS I turned to the BBC iPlayer and flicked through Monday night's edition of The World Tonight to see what could have been going on. "If it IS on there it'll be at the end, with the Light Hearted Items" I thought, and BLOW ME but I was RIGHT! The final item was all about people sharing washing machines and HOLY MOLY they played a BLAST of Another Man's Laundry (hanging on your line) (about 44 minutes in)! A whole verse and chorus of it!

    I was AMAZED, also PLEASED because it actually sounded DEAD GOOD. I guess it COULD be that there's someone working on the show who likes my/our stuff, but I think the more Scientifically Plausible answer is that they done a GOOGLE for "Washing Machine Songs" and found us. Whatever way they did it I am very much open to MORE uses of my WORKZ in Current Affairs - perhaps next time Morrissey says something, or G Barlow dodges a tax? Or maybe - SURELY - if they need to talk about ZX Spectrums?

    Whatever happens with this station the BEST part is that I am now one step closer to completing the full set of national BBC network plays. I've already had songs on Radios 1,2,3 (I think) and 6, with this addition I just need to get something onto 5 Live and the Asian Network and I've got THE LOT!

    posted 30/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Spare Ticket For The Pixies
    A week or so ago I sent my old chum Mr S Carter a "fancy a pint?" text and he replied with "fancy seeing The Pixies?" which, all things considered, is a fairly MIGHTY response. He had spare tickets for their gig in BRIXTON last night and, though I've never been a HUGE Pixies fan (although OBVS someone of my age, background and Musical Persuasion is pretty much a Pixies fan by DEFAULT) I thought it was likely to be fun. HE is always a DELIGHT to see, and also the OTHER Spare Ticket gigs I've been to this year (ELO and Wilko Johnson) have been pretty GRATE, surely this one would be no different?

    SPOILERS: It wasn't.

    I'd read up beforehand about the SUPPORT act, who were described as "making a name for themselves on the festival circuit supporting (terrible corporate indie act),(dreary Jools-approved indie act) and (I assume they're a Young People's Band)" so I was quite happy with MISSING them. We actually ended up being slightly TOO cool for school as our pre-gig CHIPS took longer than expected to arrive, so the Pixies were already ON when we got IN. The first thing I noticed was that they sounded a LOT like The Pixies. The second thing I noticed was that the audience looked EXACTLY as I expected i.e. like ME!

    The venue was the Brixton Academy, which is a FANTASTIC place. The crowd was rammed right up to the bar area, so for the first couple of songs we couldn't really see much (we could HEAR fine!). However, as the usual audience CHURN went on we found ourselves moving gently forward until, about THREE FEET from where we'd started, we suddenly had a perfect view. It is a GRATE venue!

    As I say, I've never been a huge Pixie's zealot and so was thinking there'd maybe be TWO songs I'd know - "Debaser" and "Monkey Gone To Heaven". However, it turns out they have approx THREE times as many hits as I'd remembered (i.e. 6), some of which were AMAZING. My favourite bit all night was "Here Comes Your Man" - MAN ALIVE but the MEMORIES were so LOUD in the room you could practically SMELL the Chips And Cheese at the Poly Bop!

    There was also the usual New Material but to be honest it all sounded like The Pixies to me, and that all sounded PRETTY DARN GOOD. It was in fact a DELIGHTFUL evening - I can HEARTILY recommend this Spare Ticket-based gig going, it's a LOT of fun!

    posted 29/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back In The Orchestra Shed
    Yesterday I did something I used to do all the time but have not done for YEARS: I stayed at work late!

    Fear not, gentle reader, I was not SELLING OUT TO THE MAN by doing IMMATERIAL LABOUR (or "unpaid overtime" as we used to call it, PRE-INTERNET), I was just hanging around because it was easier than going home then heading out again. I used to do this A LOT when I worked at Birkbeck and had things to do in town, but didn't at Imperial because it was MILES away from anywhere!

    Anyway, my appointment was in TOTTENHAM, home of Ossie Ardiles et al, and it was to White Hart Lane station that I travelled. I was in that area to attend an REHEARSAL with A Little Orchestra, in preparation for Totally Acoustic next week, and I arrived at the address I'd been given to find them all down the end of the garden in a MUSIC SHED. Coo-er but it was a bit fancy, I was DEAD impressed. They were even doing some of The Classical Music when I entered, it was dead swanky, so I was SURPRISED by the discussion they had upon completion of the PIECE.

    "Let's talk about dynamics" said Mr M Walker, who seemed to be CHAIRING the meeting. Everyone nodded and looked serious, and I prepared myself to look as if I understood what was going on.

    "Let's do the first bit loud, then quiet, then loud and quiet again," he said.

    WOT?!? That is how WE do it - surely there must be more to it than that? Or - OR! - perhaps this means that The Validators are basically a SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA? Yes, that's probably it.

    With that sorted out we embarked upon the two songs I'd be singing with them. The FIRST is a song that The Validators always JOKE about putting in the setlist. When we discussed this issue the other week in Nottingham, for instance, it was brought up and I thought "Hang on, we COULD do that in London couldn't we?" as I sang it with A Little Orchestra LAST time they played Totally Acoustic. Unfortunately, that time, SOMEBODY (it doesn't matter who) got a bit a) over-excited b) drunk and forgot both the words AND the structure, so cocked it all up a bit. THIS time that person (whoever it may be) made some careful NOTES so hopefully that won't happen again, because when it works properly this version is INCREDIBLE!

    With that done we moved onto the CHRISTMAS song we're doing - as with above, I'm not saying what the song IS to retain some SURPRISE, but I can reveal that it IS taken from The Greatest Christmas Album Ever Made (yes, EVEN BETTER than OUR Christmas album) which is, coincidentally, also The Greatest Bob Dylan Album Ever Made. It's quite a slow song, so I found it difficult to sing at first due to my inability to hold NOTES for any length of time and also my inability to stick to MY bit of the tune whenever OTHER bits of tune are going on at the same time. The KEY to doing it right (or as near to right as I'm ever going to manage) was to lean NONCHALANTLY against something, like BING at the fireplace. I think I may take a PIPE with me to the gig!

    Once we'd finished I staggered back to the train station with a big silly grin all over my face. I am USED to making amazing noises with The Vlads, OBVS, but doing something SO different, delightful, and WAY out of what I'd ever have expected to do is something I've yet to get used to.

    I'd recorded everything so that The Validators can have a practice (we're ALL playing together for these two songs, I expect there to be more people on stage than in the audience at this point by a factor of approx five to one!), which meant that when I got home I was able to have a LISTEN all over again. It sounded even better than I remembered - this is going to be BRILLIANT!

    posted 22/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Closing Moka
    You wait nine years for a gig within walking distance then suddenly you get TWO in the same month!

    For LO! last night I was back at The Moka Cafe to play the FINAL gig there. Apparently the people who OWN the ViewTube, where its based, have put the rent up A LOT so the cafe, which has been there for four years, can no longer afford it. It's a real shame and has caused a lot of discontent, but when I arrived I found everyone in HIGH spirits. There was FOOD and BOOZE and MANY people who'd come to thank David The Cafe Owner for running such a GRATE place all this time.

    There were several people playing over the course of the evening, including Mr D Pilkington HOST), a MAGICIAN, some INSTRUMENTALISTS and a man playing JAZZ CLARINET. It was VARIETY! It was very much a PARTY atmosphere, rather than a GIG, so people did fairly short sets, meaning I found myself taking to the stage 30 minutes (and approx 2 beers!) earlier than I'd expected to do THIS:

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

  • People were more concerned with having FUN than listening to me, which I can FULLY understand, so I concentrated on a) SMILING at those nearby and b) playing the HECK out of the gig anyway, and I must admit that as a result I had a MARVELLOUS time. My only regrets were 1) I didn't go to the loo first (I wasn't expecting to go on yet!) 2) I didn't take my jumper off before starting (see above) and 3) I didn't have a go at the NEW song what I had written earlier in the day. Yes! A NEW SONG! It's the first I've written for AGES - possibly even YEARS - that was just for fun and not for anything else (e.g. a show, a webpage, something like that) so I am clearly out of the habit of PREMIERING them. Perhaps I shall try and learn the words ready for Scaledown next month!

    With my bit done I packed up, got a beer, and then enjoyed a GRATE performance of "Hallelujah" by Dave P with someone who'd worked at the cafe,and THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE. It was a right proper singalong, followed by a version of "Stand By Me" where everyone got to the second verse and thought "Ah! I only know the first verse" but then realised, en masse, that EVERYBODY knows ALL the words to that song. This ALWAYS happens when "Stand By Me" is played in public, it is like the lyrics are ENGRAINED in the BRANES of all humanity!

    It was a lovely way to finish the evening - I have ENDED several venues, usually unknowingly, but this was one of the happiest consciously final shows I've ever played!

    posted 21/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    This Man, This Teacher
    On Tuesday afternoon I took a step towards fulfilling my MANIFEST DESTINY i.e. becoming some sort of TEACHER. My NAN was a teacher and all my life people have said "Have you ever thought about becoming a teacher?" I like to think this is because of my INNATE WISDOWM and COMMUNICATION SKILLZ, tho I must face the fact that it MAY be because I am basically incapable of existing in COMMERCE. Also, I do wear CORDOUROY rather well.

    Anyway, this first step was a TALK what I was giving to a bunch of undergraduates doing a module on "Graphic Narratives" (i.e. COMICS) at the London College Of Communication. The person running the course was getting VARIOUS of my fellow Comics Studies students in to talk about our PhD proposals as a way of showing The Kids different ways of approaching this kind of research. I was VERY happy to take part, not JUST because I am always happy to have an audience (especially one who are not allowed to leave halfway through), but also because I need to do something similar anyway. At my first Supervisory Meeting last month my Supervisors and I got a bit over-excited about the various ways I could DO The Bronze Age Of Marvel Comics as a research topic, even getting to the point where it could be nothing to DO with Marvel and became an "exploration of collaboration", so we agreed that for our next meeting I'd do a PRESENTATION on all the different ways i COULD do it, then try and work a PLAN out from there. THUS doing the LCC talk would hopefully be a GRATE way of getting my THORTS together and, who knows, even getting some NEW ideas from The Kidz?

    I arrived at LCC to find that, like at St Martins, modern ART students wear black, white or, if they're feeling KRAZY, GREY at all times. I know that my generation of students did pretty much the same, but that was because we washed everything at the same time so our clothes TURNED grey, this lot seem to be doing it on purpose!

    I met with my COLLEAGUE Tobias who was also doing a talk, and we were taken upstairs to a room full of YOUNG PEOPLE. Tobias went first, and his talk was PROPER Academic - examples, history, consideration, all that sort of thing. It made me a bit worried about how mine would go, as it was basically predicated on my LEAPING AROUND getting EXCITED.

    Luckily it went FINE, especially once I'd reminded myself that this WAS a lecture session, NOT a gig, so everyone was extremely sober and thus a RIPPLE OF GIGGLE was equivalent to a BIG LARF. It was dead good fun - I stampeded through an explanation of "Bronze Age", "Shared World" and "Transmedia", then presented a whole string of different METHODOLOGIES. I had to do this bit at high speed because, to be honest, I have only recently found out about most of them myself so could well have done it wrong if I'd had to go into any depth!

    The BEST bit was at the end when we had questions, and we entered into a long discussion of how I could AUTOETHNOGRAPHICALLY "BECOME" a superhero and experience the INHERENTLY PERFORMATIVE aspects thereof. It was GRATE! Also, unfortunately, for some reason I decided to tell everyone about Man Of Steel, Woman Of Kleenex so I fear that the MAIN thing everyone will remember from my bit is, as everyone gleefully shouted later, "SUPER SPERM!"

    At the end was a QUIZ, which was illuminating as one of the questions was "Which three comics did Mark particularly push as ones you should read?" I didn't have a clue - I hadn't really been listening - but it turns out these were "The Fantastic Four" (the John Byrne run, OBVS, as a Classic Of The Bronze Age), "Watchmen" (none of them had read it! MADNESS!) and "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl" (because it is GRATE). Turns out I have GOOD TASTE!

    When all was done I had some time to spare so popped into the Imperial War Museum, where I watched a short film about the D-Day landings and felt SAD, then saw another about the rise of Hitler and felt REALLY sad. Still, it's a good job none of THAT could possibly happen again, right?

    Luckily for me there was cheering up on hand in the form of The Artist Tom Smith AKA my baby brother, who I had a meeting in the PUB with. We went to The Seven Stars, which is ACE, and had a LENGTHY discussion about a COLLABORATIVE TALK we could give together next year. Why, it's almost as if it is DESTINY calling once again!

    posted 18/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Licked By A Radioactive Badger
    Monday lunchtime found me in London's FITZROVIA district of London for a meeting with Mr J Dredge, where we covered SEVERAL different forms of our mutual output.

    First of all we recorded John doing some VOCALS for a song we're putting together for a THING: a cover of The Day We Fall In Love by The Monkees. I had never heard the song before we started doing this, and in a way I am sort of glad because it is BLOODY AWFUL. It's like somebody said "'What A Wonderful World' is a lovely song, let's try and do something almost exactly the same but without any of the wit, empathy, tune or POINT." I thought I liked EVERYTHING The Monkees had ever released, but clearly I was DELUDED!

    It's taken me AGES to record the backing track as it was really difficult to get a grip on the structure of the song - it's so RUBBISH and half-arsed that I couldn't work out which bit went where. Eventually I DID manage to work it out, record it, and stick it onto my 4 track so that John could do his vocals - when I put it all back together later that evening it actually sounded dead nice. The next step is to MUCK IT UP!

    Anwyay, with that bit of vocals done we went for some LUNCH (we are dead sophisticated) and discussed some other future possibilities. One of these was the idea of writing a SPEC SCRIPT - John had a chat with a Professional Writer the other day, who told him that the way to get WORK writing on TV shows was to write an original script A BIT LIKE the show you want to write for, then send it to the people who MAKE that show. This sounds pretty sensible to me - it's like in America where you write a spec based on an EXISTING show that is LIKE, but NOT, the show you want to write for - so we had a MARVELOUS half an hour coming up with ideas for a daft 10 minute cartoon show about someone who gets licked by a radioactive badger and then goes crime fighting with his Mum. I mean, COME ON - do we even need to WRITE the script? Surely THAT as a logline is enough to secure a film deal right NOW?

    Hollywood! Call me!

    posted 17/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Like Curry Through A Novice
    I was DELIGHTED yesterday to find that we had had another review for Still Valid (very much still available, ideal Christmas present etc etc) in that AUGUST journal The Morning Star. It is written by all-round good guy Mr J Walsh and features an EXTENDED, also MARVELLOUS, metaphor related to CURRY, surely the best of all possible metaphors!

    This comes at a time when I'm wondering what on earth to do NEXT to try and get people to listen to/BUY the album. As discussed previously, the PLAN this time around was to release a series of VIDEOS to promote it, but I am afraid I have to report that this has not been HUGELY successful. I mean, we have DONE a load of videos, and I'm really pleased with how they came out, but they have not exactly been a ROARING success in terms of DRIVING SALES e.g. I sold more CDs at the Nottingham gig than I have as a result of ALL the videos put together!

    I guess this is good news for LIVE MUSIC, but it does leave me wondering what else I can do to PLUG the album. It is a good record, i think it is probably our BEST, and lots of LOVELY people have purchased it, but we don't seem to have been able to do much in the way of OUTREACH this time. I'm not expecting to be on JOOLS or anything, but it would have been nice to inflict it on a few more NEW people this time around!

    Any ideas would thus, as ever, be EXTREMELY appreciated. I fear, however, that the only answer is a return to THE ROAD!

    posted 16/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Opening Night/Closing Night
    Last Friday night found me heading over to the Oxford House in Bethnal Green, where we of the Lost City Writers were putting on our play All In The Same Boat. I was quite excited because, as stated previously, the dress rehearsal had been BRILLO!

    I arrived to find the stage pretty much set up, including an ACTUAL BOAT which had been built especially for the show - it looked GRATE! There was much dashing around, moving things, checking things, and the sort of general pre-show FAFF which I really enjoy. I know how all this sort of thing WORKS, it's EXCITING!

    Our official opening time was 7pm, but people started drifted in before then so I sat myself down as part of the DOOR TEAM. I ALSO really enjoy Doing The Door - it's an excuse to be ludicrously DELIGHTFUL with people you don't know, and also to BOSS them around. I like it so much, in fact, that I volunteered to sit outside the door and miss the first half of the show, in case there were latecomers.

    I thus only got to see the second half, but COR what a second half it was - everything WORKED, often in ways we, the writers, had not thought of, and I got swept along with the stories. The best bit was actually just after it had finished, when the lights came up and I opened the doors to let people out. I could see everyone SMILING (it was a pretty good sized crowd) and talking about how much they'd enjoyed it. It made me VERY happy!

    Next day I was back again for the second, also the CLOSING, night, this time accompanied by The Days Of My Run. We arrived at 7pm to find that I didn't actually need to DO anything - everything was completely under control and ready for action, which I found a bit disconcerting. I stood near the entrance trying to helpfully point people in the direction of the theatre, but felt a bit SPARE!

    This did however mean that I saw the whole show this time, helped along by some REFRESHMENT. The cafe and bar at the venue were both CLOSED, so The Measures Of My Optics had suggested that we take along our own BEER! This was an EXCELLENT idea, although I could FEEL half the audience's ears prick up when we opened our bottles, and SENSE their collective MINDS thinking "Where did THEY get drinks from?"

    The show was FAB again, different from the night before with different audience reactions, and still a beautiful thing which I was IMMENSELY proud to be part of. My favourite part of the play itself was right at the end, when we reveal What Is Actually Going On. I could feel a ripple of EXCITEMENT go round the audience when everyone realised what was happening, it was lovely!

    And then that was that - all done... for now at least. The two previous shows Lost City Writers have put on ended after their first runs, but this one feels like it shouldn't. I think the big difference this time is that it's a single play - the others were PORTMANTEAUS, seperate short plays on the same theme, but this is a single story that we've written together, so it feels like it could EASILY be taken on and done by someone else. We're going to get together sometime soon to talk about what to do - we could send it off to theatre companies, enter it in competitions, or even try to put it on again with the same cast and director. I hope SOMETHING happens anyway, it feels too good to have it's first and last ever performances on the same weekend!

    posted 15/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Arrival
    I went to the PICTURES the other day, to see the film 'Arrival'. I had read lots of interesting things about it, but the main SPUR to go and actually SEE it was a slew of twitter comments from sci-fi websites saying "Here's what we think of the AMAZING ending to 'Arrival' - SPOILERS!"

    THUS I thought I'd better go before I found out what happened, and OH BOY was I ever glad I did, as it is FANTASTIC. It's slowly paced, like the PLATONIC IDEAL of a late 60s/early 70s sci-fi such as '2001' or 'Silent Running' but with excellent modern day special effects. There's not a huge amount of EXPLOSIONS or ACTION but there is a LOT of drama - it's about ALIENS arriving, and it's EXTREMELY satisfying to see how very ALIEN the aliens are. The only time I've seen anything like them was in that "Torchwood: Children Of Earth", which this film is otherwise pretty much nothing like.

    The STORY is about trying to communicate with these aliens, which is something that never seems to cause much trouble in regular sci-fi, but here is the whole point. I won't go into any detail about what happens... except to say that I have seen an AWFUL LOT of sci-fi films and READ about a hundred thousand million of them, but I have NEVER seen or read a story like this before. It features an actual real-life bona fide NEW IDEA! I could hardly believe it!

    So yes - 'Arrival' is DEAD GOOD, I heartily recommend seeing it before someone tells you properly what it's about!

    posted 14/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dress Rehearsal
    Thursday night found me heading out to Canary Wharf AKA "Toytown" (according to The Words In My Sentence) AKA "TORCHWOOD" (according to Doctor Who) AKA "Unsignposted NIGHTMARE" (according to me), where I arrived to find NO appropriate signage or MAPS and got hopelessly lost! Lots of nice people stopped to give me directions, but it all looks very very similar, especially in the dark, so it took me AGES to get to where I was going.

    (SIDEBAR: it actually reminded me very strongly of PARIS, specifically of the suburbs of Paris one night in 1989 when me and two pals did a Sponsored Jail Break from School, and got a) ridiculously far b) HOPELESSLY LOST. It was an experience that lasted less than 24 hours but is clearly INDELIBLY engraved in my BRANE!)

    Anyway, eventually I DID get to where I was going, which was the new home of 'Theatre Delicatessen'. These are the rehearsal rooms that used to be based in the old Guardian Building in Farringdon, where Mr S Hewitt and I rehearsed a lot of Hey Hey 16K and where Mr J Dredge and I filmed a lot of our videos. It's now based in a DIFFERENT set of unused offices, which seems to me to be a very sensible use of empty premises!

    I found my way upstairs to discover the CAST of the new Lost City Writers play All In The Same Boat. For LO! That was what I was there for - the DRESS REHEARSAL of the show which is, at time of writing, on TONIGHT!

    I hadn't actually met anybody before, but I HAD spent several hours with their FACES when I was putting together the programme, which is always a bit of an odd feeling. When I did my MA I was told that when attending rehearsals it is best for The Writer to sit quietly in the corner and let everybody else get on with it, so that is exactly what I did. I sat in the WRONG corner to start with - the stage set-up is at 90 degrees to how i'd imagined it, which turns out to be BETTER - so shuffled over and then found myself basically sitting at the FEET of the actors for large portions of the performance. It's almost as if I don't have much practice of sitting quietly in corners.

    The show itself was FANTASTIC. It's WEIRD when you see something you've written being done by other people, especially when you've had no input in the rehearsal process. At first I noticed all the bits done differently to how I'd expected, but very very quickly I forgot all that and just enjoyed it - I LARFED several times and shed a couple of manly tears too, even though I had read the whole thing loads of times and TALKED about it for months. This, I feel, is a very very good sign.

    At the end, when Natalie The Director gave NOTES, I must admit I struggled with the whole Keeping Quiet thing, as I was DESPERATE to go "OH MY LAWKS THAT WAS BRILLIANT!" I managed to hold it in though, only once saying "OH BLIMEY!" out loud when they talked about the remains of the parrot, and then at the end saying "THAT WAS ACE YOU GUYS!" as I left.

    I then pretty much SKIPPED home - like most of the planet I'd had an attack of the GLUMS since the US Election, but this had cheered me RIGHT up. I mean, I know that our play about refugees throughout history may NOT put right everything that's happened this week, but it didn't half make me happy. If you're about in That London this weekend I would HIGHLY recommend coming - it's on at The Oxford House in Bethnal Green on Friday 11 and Saturday 12 November, and you can find full details and tickets here.

    Come! It'll be GRATE!

    posted 11/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Aroma Of Alan Moore
    On Monday night The Chapters In My Book and I went to see Alan Moore being interviewed by Stewart Lee about his new book "Jerusalem". SPOILERS: it was dead good.

    It was a Guardian Live event at the Shaftesbury Theatre, so we met in the pub next door which shall forever be known as That Pub Where We Watched The Olympic Opening Ceremony. A QUEUE was forming as we finished our beers so we supped up and nipped in to try and get a good seat. However, once we got in we were LURED away by the BAR, so when it was time to get sat we ended up having to go to the upstairs balcony, for LO! it was dead busy. Also, weirdly EXCITABLE. There were a lot of people who were CLEARLY Alan Moore/Comics fans who are not exactly known for being jumpy and squeaky, so I guess it was General Guardian Readers who thought they were there for a Stewart Lee gig. There was a LOT of Inappropriate Giggling throughout, also jiggling in seats, WHOOPING (whooping!) at statements and general Odd Behaviour. When you go to events at comic shops there is usually SILENCE!

    The talk was dead good with Stewart Lee was EXCELLENT throughout. He'd clearly done his homework i.e. actually READ the book (he asked how many people in the audience had finished it and not many hands went up, unsurprising as it's over a thousand pages long!) and knew his stuff AROUND the subject AND Alan Moore. He was also very good at letting him speak, gliding over interjections from the audience, and butting in when needed to. It's strange seeing him in a situation like that though, clearly enjoying himself and LARFING a lot, when you're used to his stage persona!

    Alan Moore himself was FAB, but then I would say that OBVS. He started off quite jokey, in line with the atmosphere that some people seemed to expect of a Stewart Lee led show (I liked it when he was asked if HE'D ever read "Jerusalem" - he said "I've been putting it off, it looks a bit difficult" and there were GUFFAWS of acknowledgement from the crowd), but then got more serious and IN DEPTH, while still being DELIGHTFUL.

    There were questions at the end, most of which were Dead Good and INTERESTING, and only one of which was asking about "The Killing Joke" - Mr Moore dealt with this in the same way as he had when I did a gig with him in Northampton, and someone asked about Rorscharch: he explained politely that he didn't really like to talk about characters that had been stolen from him but was glad they'd given pleasure to the person asking. However, he THEN seemed to be about to talk about it ANYWAY, but Stewart Lee pulled him back!

    The HIGH POINT of the evening, however, was when someone asked him what stuff he LIKED. Amongst the general Philosophical Points Mr Moore revealed that he REALLY likes Lush Bath Ball! He THEN went on to reveal that he had been in talks with Actual LUSH to produce an Alan Moore Bath Ball!!! I think this may be the most brilliant FACT I have ever heard!

    posted 11/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Supporting The Wave Pictures
    Yesterday afternoon found me travelling VERY VERY SLOWLY to Nottingham. It was a Sunday so I knew it was not going to be an EXPRESS journey, but we got delayed by an extra half hour so it took me nearly THREE HOURS to get there!

    Luckily the trip was VERY MUCH worth it, for LO! I was up there to meet The Validators for our gig supporting The Wave Pictures. I arrived to find a) The Wave Pictures doing an EXCELLENT soundcheck version of "Everything Is Broken" by Mr B Dylan and b) all Validators except for Tom already there. Within in a matter of minutes The Tiger had arrived, the soundcheck was completed, and it was OUR turn to take to the stage. We were aided in the process by Phil The Soundman, who is GRATE. It's weird with SoundPeople - it APPEARS to just be putting microphones in the right place, but when you get somebody who's actually REALLY GOOD it makes an ENORMOUS difference. We could all HEAR ourselves AND each other, so we actually sounded DEAD GOOD rather than Crash Bang Wallop. It was fab!

    The soundcheck was LENGTHENED by a new experiment - Tim had brought his CAJON with him (it's one of those BOXES that you sit on and then TAP various bits to make drum noises with) to try out on It Only Works Because You're here so Phil got it miked up and... it sounded really good! Then we started playing and COR! It sounded AMAAAAZING!

    Thus it was a very happy Band who strolled down the road to get FALAFEL, as recommended by a group led by Mr A Hale, PROMOTER and indeed BIRTHDAY BOY for the evening. The Falafel's were LOVELY - everything was going VERY well!

    Usually this would be the cue for DISASTER, but no - everything CONTINUED well! We got back to the venue, had a drink, and then went on stage to get set up. The only hitch was that Tim had gone to the bar and it was a bit busy, but that was soon sorted and he dashed back to join us in doing THIS:
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • Can We Be Friends?
  • You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • We Did It Anyway

  • It went PRETTY WELL. The room filled up CONSIDERABLY as we went along and but the audience were a little bit WARY of us to start with - they had, after all, come to see The Wave Pictures and were probably not expecting to have someone SHOUT at them or indeed take quite so long introducing Emma's SHOES (they were SPARKLY) - but they warmed up A LOT as we went along and joined in with the "Oi Hibbett!" bit of Easily Impressed with GUSTO!

    We also did You Will Be Hearing From My Solicitor for the first time in just over TEN YEARS, cocked up the middle of (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock (it doesn't matter who is to blame, I'm sure EVERYONE forgot when the change was...) but then SMOOTHLY got back into it, and the new Cajon Enhanced version of It Only Works Because You're here was GORGEOUS!

    Afterwards we had our usual CHAT and TV ROUND-UP ("Tom! The BAND are watching 'Parks And Recreation'!") then saw The Wave Pictures, who were really really good. I do love the way they'll lean back, relax, and just PEEL OFF an amazing solo as if it's nothing, nobody else can do that like they do!

    When it was all done and dusted The Validators went home, I stuck around for a bit more chat, and soon it was hometime. As I wandered through Nottingham almost, but not quite, getting lost, I thought about how much FUN this had all been. I'd really enjoyed playing and, even more, lurking around catching up with people. Next gig is Totally Acoustic, when we're doing a WHOLE SET with not just Tim's cajon but ALSO Frankie's new acoustical bass. I feel it may be ASTOUNDING!

    posted 7/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Can We Be Friends?
    Today we are very VERY proud to unveil the new video for our song Can We Be Friends?, THUS:



    The photographs are by Mr C Porsz, taken from his new book 'Reunions' which is released today! Chris has spent YEARS trying to reunite the subjects of some of his old photographs, taken on the streets of Peterborough in the 1980s, and the results, I reckon, are PROFOUNDLY MOVING.

    As I say, you can buy Chris's book right now and also buy 'Still Valid', the album from whence the song came. Most of all though, you could TWEET or INSTAGRAM or BRAIN HOLOGRAM the video - I think it's a lovely thing, and I'd really like lots of people to see it!

    posted 4/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Transmedia Outputs
    You discover me up to my EARS in PROJECTS today, as many and various things pass through disparate stages of completion. If that sounds like it was written by someone who has completed a lot of FORMS lately, then that is because it WAS.

    For LO! one of the aforementioned THINGS has been filling in the form to apply for some FUNDING for my PhD. I applied last year, got to interview stage, and apparently JUST missed out due to a) my first degree (almost as if saying "all the COOL kids got a DESMOND" doesn't count anymore?!?) and b) the fact that I didn't know what they were on about when they asked about what "methodology" I would be using. I have thus been BONING UP on this and other academic terms and now have a BRANE full of words like "convergence", "cultural studies", "transmedia" and "performative". If you see me in the near future PLEASE do not ask me about any of the above as I fear it will make my head EXPLODE!

    I've also been preparing for a couple of EVENTS what are upcoming. The first of these is our gig in NOTTINGHAM supporting The Wave Pictures. According to Gig Promoter Mr A Hale tickets (available here) are very nearly SOLD OUT, which makes it all a lot less stressful for us and indeed HIM, but there has still had to be discussions between Validators about transport, arrival times, setlists and, VITALLY, what we're having for our tea. I think it's going to be CHIPS!

    The second event is our new Lost City Writers play All In The Same Boat. I've been sorting out the programme, which looks LOVELY, but can reveal that tickets for this one are NOT nearly sold out, so if you're about in That London on 11 and 12 November please do come, it'll be good, I promise!

    And then there's been the preparations for the Can We Be Friends? video, what is out TOMORROW! I showed it to The Frames In My Clip the other night and was suddenly aware that it is FANTASTIC. She's the first person outside of The Validators or Mr C Porsz (whose photographs we're using) to see it, and as she ENJOYED it I realised that it is a LOVELY piece of work to look at (and also to listen to, OBVS). Chris has tracked down the subjects of some of his old photographs, taken on the mean streets of Peterborough in the 1980s, and re-staged them. The results are INTENSELY moving and I'm right excited about showing it to people, especially as it ties into the release of his new BOOK!

    It is, in short, ALL GO as usual - but I think ALL GOOD!

    posted 3/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    You May Feel A Prick
    Starting a new job means a whole new set of COLDS to catch, especially when your new desk is sat underneath the air conditioning so you are sure not to miss ANY infections what are circulating around the system.

    Thus I have endured a fortnight of various SNEEZES, SNIFFLES and generally looking blearily at things and saying "Bleh", after which I declared "Enough is enough!" (or, rather, "Enub id enub ACHOO") and decided to try and DO something about it. A few years ago I managed to get a FLU vaccination - I'd been to see my GP about something else and at the end he'd offered me a JAB, just because he had some spares. It was like when you have a sit-down curry and they offer you a Complimentary Liqueur - it is a MINOR HONOUR and thus RUDE to decline. Decline I did not, and what followed was a WONDERFUL winter of not feeling poorly all the time.

    I checked with my current GP and was told that I was not eligible for a FREE jab, but that I could always get one from the Chemist next door for the bargain basement price of twelve quid. I really like my local Chemist Shop - they have been VERY helpful on a couple of occasions when my GP surgey has been APPALLING (NB not in a DANGEROUS way just in an hopelessly inept and generally crap way) and have the look of Professional People who have to be polite about the TWITS they seem to have become shackled to.

    So it was that I BOWLED in after work last night to find that the Pharmacist On Duty was the Nice Chap who helped me sort out part of the most recent bout of GP crapness (it took TWO WEEKS to get them to get me the RIGHT prescription, I was verging on full-on BASIL FAWLTY RAGE by the end). I proffered a BIG GRIN of recognition, then realised that he probably has to do that sort of thing all the time so was unlikely to remember me. I asked about the JAB and within SECONDS we were filling in a form. "You mean I can get this done NOW?" "Not now," he said, "but in about five minutes, yes." COR!

    Five minutes later i was sat in the examination room, answering a few questions about Medical History. EVERY time I am ever in a small room like this I have the URGE to EITHER say "Can you just pop your top off for me?" OR offer to do the same. I am a) convinced this would be HILARIOUS but b) aware that others may not find it so, and so manage to resist, but it was VERY difficult in this case not least because he said "I just need to put the jab in your shoulder."

    It was a FEAT OF WILL for me not to say anything. I unbuttoned my shirt and pulled the left sleeve off my shoulder, so I felt like a RENAISSANCE VENUS or perhaps an embodiment of LIBERTE storming a barricade with a breast dangling. "I'll just leave this coquettishly draped here shall I?" I said.

    Perhaps pharmacists have training for dealing with PRATS in their examination rooms, I don't know, but he calmly ignored me and jabbed a needle in my arm instead, and we then carried on like SENSIBLE people instead. I did my shirt up, waited for five minutes to check I didn't have an HIDEOUS REACTION (I didn't), and that was it, I could go home!

    Apart from making FOOLISH REMARKS it had all gone incredibly smoothly, and I now look forward to an entire season of GLIMMERING HEALTH. And who knows, maybe next time I just WILL offer to pop my top off!

    posted 1/11/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Kenwood Culture
    On Saturday The Route Of My Walk and I headed over to scenic Hampstead Heath to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to see the ART in Kenwood House. We've been STROLLING on Hampstead Heath many many times over the years (it is Quite Nice) but never actually managed to get inside and see the aforesaid ART, so this time we were determined to make it.

    Thus we found ourselves STOMPING up Parliament Hill at the Ungodly time of LUNCH time on a Sunday (we really were determined) and into Kenwood itself. As soon as we entered the building we were accosted by a volunteer who told us THE LOT about the house and very handily told us the four main things to look for: two paintings, the library, and Dido Belle. This was all news to me - the cafe was the only thing I was aware of previously - but I did not wish to appear VULGAR so nodded knowleadgably.

    We wandered round into another room and were again ACCOSTED by a volunter. The place was FULL of them, all very keen to tell you stuff. I asked about THE REMBRANDT and he pointed it out behind me, tucked casually behind a door. It was amazing - it's a REALLY REALLY REALLY famous self-portrait (this one) and there it was in a FREE museum in a public park! We waited a minute or so for a group to move away and then the two of us stood right up close to it having a good old PRIVATE VIEW. It was amazing!

    Also in that room was The Guitar Player by Mr J Vermeer, which was fab, but both of us liked the painting by Frans Hals of his PAL the best. It was LOVELY - it looked like an old CHUM grinning at you! The Paint On My Brush said "It's like the Laughing Cavalier", and LO! it turns out it was done by THE SAME GUY. Shortly afterwards we saw another painting where i said "It looks like that bloke, whatsisname of Derby" and LO AGAIN! it totally WAS by Joseph Wright of Derby. WOT a pair of CONNOISSEURS we are!

    We also saw the LIBRARY (posh, smelt a bit like my Nan's old spare room), more GRATE ART, a lot of paintings of Posh People pretending to be Shakespeare characters, and a display about Dido Belle. It was all VERY interesting and, as I say, amazing to see all for free in a building in a park, but when we'd circumnavigated the ground floor I was glad to be able to STEER us out and round to the cafe before The Pictures In My Gallery realised there was a whole other FLOOR to look at. I think it is wise to STOP looking at art before you go completely BOOGLY eyed, and we can always go back another time!

    It was dead good though and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone. I would also recommend popping into The Garden Gate where I had TWO of the nicest pints of Ubu I have ever had!

    posted 31/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Take Me Home Croydon Road
    Last night I was back in Croydon, walking the old familiar route that I used to take on the way to the MANY MANY gigs I have done at The Green Dragon. This time however I stopped just before I got there to go into The Spreadeagle instead, a pub I had LOOKED at all those many times but never gone inside. It was NICE!

    I was there to do a gig with Ms J Lockyer and Mr G Osborn, the latter of whom I discovered chatting to Mr S Hewitt as soon as I went in. It was DELIGHTFUL to see them both, and we went upstairs to the THEATRE/Gig Area where we found Jenny and Mr T Eveleigh. There was further CHAT, setting the tone for a really REALLY pleasant evening of YACKING.

    Steve and I went in search of some GRUB back downstairs again, where we found Mr W Pilkington. We ordered food and were told we couldn't take it into the actual performance ZONE but COULD utilise the upstairs "balcony" area nearby. We agreed to this arrangement and it was only when we went back up again that we discovered the balcony was a tiny space just next to the entrance to the room, cordoned off with a VELVET ROPE. Our tea arrived as people were going in, so we sat their DINING like DISPLAYED PRINCES, waving to customers as we ate our chips.

    It was from this vantage point that I heard Tim go on stage and say "It's five to eight, so we'll be starting in five minutes." This was INCORRECT - it was only ten to - so I put my head around the corner of the stage and told Tim the TRUE time, and pointed out that he'd got his WRONG time from the Pub Clock which, as Pub Clocks traditionally are, was set to be five minutes ahead. "It's a thing", I said. He had never heard it before so asked the audience, ALL of whom knew of this Traditional Arrangement. It felt like we were doing a BIT, but I was just wanting to make sure I had time to eat my tea!

    It all worked out perfectly and Steve and I got back in JUST at the right moment to see Gav who was, of course, EXCELLENT. He always seems to be doing NEW STUFF and not relying on his Old Standards which a) means I get to HEAR more of his stuff but b) makes me feel bad because I'm doing basically the same set every time. I mean, I'm writing a new song at the moment, but it's taken me a week so far and I've only just got to the first chorus!

    Anyway, he was GRATE and then it was my turn to go on and do THIS:

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

  • See what I mean about it being the usual set? It didn't seem to matter tho - approx 40% of the audience seemed to know the WORDS (better than me in a couple of cases) and SANG ALONG, while the 60% who didn't LARFED at the places where people tend to laugh if they've not heard me before, which was all in all a pretty much PERFECT mix! My favourite bits were a) nearly getting the WHISTLING right for In The North Stand b) dedicating part of My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once to Mr Spoons and c) NOT getting the words wrong when Steve and Gav did the "La La La" bit in It Only Works Because You're here. I enjoyed it IMMENSELY.

    Finally it was time for our headline act, the aforesaid Jenny Lockyer. She was FANTASTIC. I have seen Jenny LOADS of times but this was pretty much the BEST - she COMMANDED the room and the stage by basically being VERY SILLY throughout, messing around in a way that made everyone feel entirely SAFE, also AMUSED. There was, for instance, a section about PLUGS which was mostly very bad PUNS, but it was done in such a DELIGHTFUL way that the whole room was GIGGLING throughout. She was excellent!

    After all that there was time for more CHAT backstage. We all offered PRAISE for Mr Eveleigh's development of his Unique Compering Style - he TALKS at LENGTH but, again, in a way that makes you think "This is all good - I don't know where he's going with this story (NB he may not know either) but I am quite happy to go along with it" - and got a bit excited about Jenny's plans for a piece of THEATRE about Amy Johnson, which sounds FASCINATING, also FAB.

    Soon though it was time for Steve and I to head back to old East Croydon station and home. It had been yet another LOVELY NIGHT to add to the long list of such nights had in Croydon. I'll be back again soon hopefully, perhaps this time playing a gig on a TRAM!

    posted 28/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Cultural Studies
    I am now IMMERSED in the world of PhD Research and am thus reading ACADEMIC TEXTS. I have, over the years, read MANY of these in my day job but they have always been on DULL things like child care, health expectancy or elderly psychiatry - I mean, who's bothered about any of THAT? BORRRRING! NOW, however, I am reading about CONTINUITY and FAN CULTURE and Wot Is A Superhero, and it is ACE!

    I am mostly enjoying it because it is INTERESTING, but I am also getting a generous side order of DELIGHT in how POMPOUS some of the writing is. If I didn't know better I would guess that half of it is written by SIXTH FORMERS such is the preponderance of multi-syllabular postulations and formulations intended to convey, express and counter-intuitively impede the efficieny of hypothesis dissemination. I have learnt a LOT more words this week! There are also even MORE Marxists than there were at my Induction weeks. They are like Coelacanths, once you've spotted one they're all over the place!

    The only downside to it all is an awareness of my own EXTREME SWOTTINESS. The days of sitting reading twitter on the sofa after tea are fading into distant memory, as these days I can be found DEVOURING Cultural Studies, occasionally MOCKING basic errors. "The fool!" you may hear me saying. "The episode 'Yesterday's Enterprise' was NOT set in The Mirror Universe. What a PLONKER!" My swottiness is also evident in the fact that I am making COPIOUS NOTES, tho surely this is only SENSIBLE as it means that I won't have to go and read everything again, and can watch TELLY on Sunday night safe in the knowledge that all my homework is DONE. I just have to remember that lots of my books are actually from the library so I can't write ON them - for LO! that would be to create PALIMPSESTS*!

    (*It's one of the words I have recently learnt and describes a manuscript what has been written over. I cannot WAIT for a chance to say it out loud, casually!)

    posted 26/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Gig In The Park
    On Friday night I did something that I haven't done for over NINE YEARS - I went to and from a gig ON FOOT!

    The show was at Moka East at The ViewTube in The Olympical Park. I'd been asked to play at the last minute by Mr G Gargan and Mr S Hendry to fill in when another act on the bill had dropped out the night before. They knew I was free because the gig that I'd been SUPPOSED to be playing on Friday, at Scaledown (co-organised by Shaun) at The King & Queen, had been CANCELLED a few days earlier!

    I thus found myself stomping across the park, going at quite a pace because I knew gig kick-off was at 6:30pm, but I'd had to come home from work and pick my guitar off on the way. I arrived just after the official start time to find the first band, Splintered Man, on stage soundchecking. I got a beer and then they started, which certainly answered my question about who was going on first! I sat out in the CONSERVATORY area of the cafe (i.e. a bit added onto the side of the shipping container which forms the main building) and could hear BIRDSONG outside, which joined in BEAUTIFULLY with the music they were playing, it was ace!

    Then it was my turn to go on, and I did THIS:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • That Guy
  • In The North Stand
  • We Did It Anyway
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • I'd been worried beforehand about a) being out of practice and b) having a horrible COLD, but it actually all went pretty well. My voice was certainly no WORSE than usual and I didn't forget any words (well, apart from the first line of (You Make Me Feel) Soft Rock, which I thus abandoned) so all was well, although I did get the feeling that this was Not Really My Crowd. A clear indicator of this came early on when I told an AMAZING JOKE what I had thought of. While introducing me Shaun had told the audience that I was a last minute booking, so I said that I was actually on stand-by for ALL entertainment venues in this area. Here is the GRATE JOKE what I then laid on them:

    "I'm was actually asked to be on the bench for West Ham tomorrow, but I said no. I don't like doing comedy gigs."

    I'll give you a moment to recover yourselves from that - that is surely INDISPUTABLY a BIG LARF right? However it got pretty much NOWT - some people smiled politely, but that was about it. I guess it was just one of those occasions when people had come out expecting folk/country music rather than EXTREME HILARITY and so had adjusted their mental receptors accordingly. Similarly songs which usually get the odd LARF or at least STRONG AGREEMENT just sorted wafted by in an entirely pleasant way, just not QUITE in the "ALL ATTENTION ON ME" way that I have sort of got used to doing mostly my own shows for the past year!

    The main act of the evening was Tom Brosseau who was MUCH more - ENTIRELY in fact - the sort of thing people were there for. Country songs in a VERY laid back American accent, self-effacing and all round rather lovely. He did a GORGEOUS version of "Goodnight Irene" at the end with us all singing along which got pretty darn SPINE TINGLY!

    So yes, it was a lovely night, very different from the gigs I've been doing lately but all the better for it, with great other acts and, perhaps best of all, only a twenty minute walk to get home. WINZ!

    posted 24/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    All In The Same Boat
    Yesterday I wrote a BLOG for Platforma Arts + Refugees Network about All In The Same Boat, the new group show what I have written alongside my various chums from the Lost City Writers Group. It was only when it went LIVE that I realised that I hadn't really talked about it much HERE, so let's put that right!

    I did mention it several weeks ago when we were discussing the TITLE, but things have moved on APACE since then. We now have a fully agreed and completed SCRIPT which has been handed over to an Actual Director who has recruited some Actual Actors with whom she is doing Actual Rehearsals! This is the third time we've done a show like this, but it still feels really WEIRD to think that there's a whole bunch of people getting ready to put on a show which they will think of (correctly) as THEIRS, using a script which I think of (correctly) as OURS, even though the two groups have mostly never even MET. I rather like it this way - I know I COULD elbow my way into rehearsals or just go and MEET the cast, but after DECADES of doing nearly everything SOLO I really enjoy the idea that somebody else is doing all the work now, and I can just roll up on the night and see what they've come up with.

    I must admit that I have quite high hopes for this one. The script is, I think, the best one we've done. The first show was seven completely separate short plays all based around the idea of SEXINESS, which worked really well (especially as our Producer, Mr A Dawson, CUNNINGLY scheduled it around Valentine's Day), while the second had the plays sort of about London and loosely linked by the idea of a radio station, which didn't (I think) quite work out as well as it could. This new one is FIRMLY linked by having the six main characters all sitting in a boat together, telling their stories, and I think the linking DOES work... though I would say that, as it was me what wrote the linking bits! Five of the six plays were written by the other five writers, the sixth was done as a joint effort, and then I stitched it together and, as it says in the Platforma Blog, I was surprised by what came out at the end. The BRIEF was to try and write something that WASN'T just handwringing, and I think we managed it, arriving at an UNEXPECTED and, hopefully, MOVING conclusion. It is, not to sound like DONALD TRUMP or anything, Quite Good.

    But hey! You don't have to take my word for it, you can come and see it for yourself! (CLEVER MARKETING) The show's on at Oxford House in Bethnal Green on Friday 11 November and Saturday 12 November, and you can buy tickets via WeGotTickets (tickets HERE for Friday or Saturday). I'm planning to be there both nights, so do come and say hello and let me know what you reckon!

    posted 21/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    First Supervision
    I've got a right stinky old cold at the moment, all sneezing and sniffling and generally BLEH. The last time I had one of these was EXACTLY a year ago, so maybe I am somehow ALLERGIC to new jobs?

    I thus spent most of yesterday sat at work annoying everyone around me with my Nasal Palaver, until approx 4:20pm when I set off for UAL where I was due to have my first Phd Supervision Meeting. Before I did THAT though I went to the LIBRARY to get some Inter Library Loans what I had requested. "Inter Library Loans!" Even typing that phrase takes me zooming back to Leicester Poly Scraptoft Library, where Librarians were FOREVER going on about Inter Library Loans, but nobody ever seemed to want them. That library, like all of Scraptoft campus (and pretty much all the pubs I used to drink in in Leicester) isn't there anymore, but the YEARNING for people to do Inter Library Loans clearly still is, as the UAL lot kept talking about them at Induction, so I thought I'd FINALLY give it a go.

    It worked! My two books were on a SHELF with a very politely caligraphied LABEL saying there were for me. That was quite old fashioned, and thus contrasted sharply with the actual act of BORROWING - I swiped my card in a machine, put the book ON the machine... and that was that, LOANED! Amazing!

    That done I went round the corner to meet Roger and Ian, my supervisors. I had learnt a NEW WORD on the way in to work that morning - HYPERDIEGESIS - so was keen to use it, and ended up saying it A LOT. We had a LENGTHY chat about what on earth it is I'm going to do, the three of us coming to the eventual conclusion that, actually, we weren't quite sure. It could be a fairly straightforward cultural analysis of Marvel Comics in the Bronze Age, it could be nothing to do with Marvel at all but an EXPLORATION of the nature of performance and collaboration, it could be an EXPERIMENT with SERIALISATION. It was all a bit head-spinning really, so we agreed that my HOMEWORK would be to prepare a presentation detailing all the different options so that we could then work out which bits we wanted and find a way to fit them together. It's a PLAN!

    I have since given this presentation a LOT of thought. Not ALL of that thinking has been "What Bronze Age characters can I used to represent these different themes and which one would Howard The Duck be?" but it has been quite a large proportion.

    Afterwards we went to the STUDENT BAR for a STUDENT PINT, which was very nice indeed, and discovered that one of Roger's chums is a stand-up comedian who I have SEEN and briefly SPOKEN to, when Steve did his BEER talk at Bright Club in Edinburgh, back in 2013. It may not actually be a small world, but the bit containing COMEDY PERFORMANCE and People Interested In Comics definitely is!

    posted 20/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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    Wilko Johnson
    Friday night found me celebrating the (hopefully) successful conclusion to the first week in my new job by heading to CAMBRIDGE, where I was due to meet Mr P Myland in order to go and see WILKO JOHNSON.

    We'd agreed to meet by the NCP Car Park outside the station, which seemed simple enough until I discovered that the NCP Car Park outside the station no longer existed. That part of Cambridge seems to be Build New Stuff CENTRAL at the moment, also the headquarters of the International TRAFFIC Association's AGM, so we spent a good twenty minutes or so involved in TELEPHONE KERFUFFLE trying to find each other. Eventually I tracked him down parked round the corner, where some helpful tabard wearers, there to manage congestion, had suggested he wait for me. We then set off and... er... got a bit lost, eventually making it to ANOTHER car park in the middle of town.

    The bit of Cambridge we were in didn't seem to have any obvious Eating Pubs in it, so we went and had some SUSHI. Now, this may surprise regular readers who are used to my GADABOUT lifestyle, full of connoisseurship and fine dining, but I have never actually EATEN Sushi before. It always seems to be FISH, which I don't eat, but I found a VEGGIE box and had a go. FOOD REVIEW: it was all right. It still tasted a bit fishy, but I understand that that's the seaweed. I can still TASTE it, several days later, but perhaps that is the effect of a NEW THING. Or maybe it was just slathering it with soy sauce.

    That done we went and had a pint of CRAFT LAGER (BEER REVIEW: quite nice) in The Corn Exchange, DELIGHTING ourselves by noting that we were pretty much the youngest people there, then went in to the gig itself. It was scheduled to start at 8:30pm and Mr Johnson and his band (a very excitable, slight varnished, lived-in looking bass player and a young looking, in the circumstances, drummer) came on at EXACTLY 8:30pm. I was most impressed! They then proceeded to play about EIGHT songs all in a row with NO talking in between, and it was PRETTY AWESOME. Wilko did not give the impression of ever having been anywhere NEAR death's door, and GOODNESS ME but they were a ROCKING outfit - they made a RIGHT old racket, it was VERY exciting.

    After a while, with song after song and NO chat it also started to sound a LITTLE BIT the same - my brain has only one slot for "BOOGIE WOOGIE (GENERAL)" in its Filing System - but it was never boring. My favourite bit was about halfway through when Wilko SPOKE to us to say he was pleased about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize, and then did a cover version of "Can You Please Call Out Your Window?" It was GRATE!

    We had right good seats down the front so had a FAB view, only party occluded by loads of people taking pictures and VIDEO all the way through. The chap next to me was PARTICULARLY keen on taking loads and loads and LOADS of pictures of the same three old men in black shirts playing the same instruments in the same way - I can understand taking a couple of photographs but it's not like there were COSTUME CHANGES - and also JIGGLING ABOUT like mad throughout. I started to get PEEVED by this, but then decided to join in and GUESS WHAT? Not only was it a lot of fun, but it also made him stop. I, however, continued to JIG to the end!

    I'd been worried about catching the last train home, so when after (almost exactly) an HOUR of SHOW they announced their last number I was Quite Excited - I thought I might even be able to catch the last QUICK train! I hadn't counted on a) it all going a bit JAZZ so that the last song lasted ten minutes and b) the two, well deserved, encores, but STILL we were out not long after ten o'clock and all was looking well.

    What I hadn't counted on NEXT was the fact that it would take us AGES to get out of the multi-storey and then... well, we got LOST again as we were too busy YACKING and not listening to SatNav lady. In the end I made it with MINUTES to spare for the last but one SLOW train, said my farewells to Mileage, then spent a DELIGHTFUL 90 minutes reading the new Squirrel Girl Graphic Novel. COMICS REVIEW: it was GRATE!

    And thus ended week one of being in my new job. NEW JOB REVIEW: So far so good!

    posted 17/10/2016 by MJ Hibbett
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