MJ Hibbett & The Validators

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Break In Service
Apologies for the rather drastic drop-off in BLOGS just lately - the reasons for this have been TWOFOLD.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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







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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

    posted 25/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Slightly less Edinburgh
    The amount of Edinburgh-based activities I'm involved with seems to EBB and FLOW like some sort of beer and curry based TIDE. One day I'm going to know EVERYBODY there and be doing 18 shows an hour, the next we're back down to one show and just me and Steve.

    For instance, since last we spoke the whole "doing the play in Edinburgh" has gone by the by due to half the cast not being able to do it. It's a shame, as I would have enjoyed the Artistic Adventure of... well, SHOWING OFF about it, but it's quite a relief to my wallet! I've also had various CHUMS who were going to do shows decide that it's not such a good idea (this year at least), and previous to all that we've gone down from three weeks to TWO and dropped entirely the idea of doing a SKETCH SHOW on the side!

    All of these things would have been exciting, but what we've come down to now is "just" me and Steve doing Hey Hey 16K for two weeks. I say "just" because of course we will be still be doing all of our usual Fringe activities i.e. having massive lie-ins, eating chips for breakfast, and maybe even going to see a couple of shows. In the cold light of day I think that's going to be MORE than enough to be going on with!

    posted 24/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Even More Edinburgh
    On Wednesday evening I headed back to my ALMA MATER for another meeting of Lost City Writers i.e. our WRITING GROUP from the MA what did the 'Sexy Seven' show the other week. It was a lovely evening and also quite INSPIRING as we do a bit at the start where everybody says what they've been up to, and this time people had been up to all sorts. It felt like we were all having a proper GO at writing, rather than letting it drop off after the course, and it was GRATE to be able to sit in a room full of delightful people all feeling happy for each other. I liked it a lot!

    A large chunk of the evening was spent discussing how things had gone with putting the show on and then ways in which it might RETURN. Mr Producer aka Mr A Dawson had had a call from a THEATRE in Edinburgh offering us a spot in their programme for the Fringe - as he said, a cynical way of seeing this was that a commercial organisation had rung to offer us the chance to give them a TONNE of CA$H, but it was also Quite Exciting to suddenly think we might be able to put the show on there. We talked through the Pros and Cons, with the Cons featuring a lot of everybody saying "It would be INCREDIBLY expensive" and, though various people came up with all sorts of ideas for funding, like grants, sponsorship, and kickstarter, I got the impression that everyone was thinking "It's a nice idea, but it's just too much money." I was, therefore, surprised, when at the end of all this Sensible Discussion everybody said "Sod it, let's have a go!"

    There's a lot of hurdles to jump over before we get anywhere NEAR confirming - the general idea is that we'd pay for the production side and ask the actors to sort out their own accomodation, which is quite a lot to ask - but the more we talked about it the more of a good idea it felt like. The worst case scenario would be nobody at all came, we didn't get any funding, and we'd each lose about 600 quid, but compared to how much money I'm currently spending on Hey Hey 16K (flats are EXPENSIVE!!) that doesn't seem SUCH a lot. And that's the worst case - if we get some upfront cash from somewhere and people DO come the costs are halved and we might even get a review!

    We'll see what happens but I must say i do like the idea of SWANNING AROUND Edinburgh saying "Darlings I must dash, have to pop in and see how my little play is doing don't you know". It would be AMAZING!

    posted 20/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    On The Way To Edinburgh
    After all the excitement of actually PERFORMING Hey Hey 16K last week we have moved onto the the QUIET yet VERY EXCITING part of the Fringe Cycle which is known as "Actually Getting Things Booked". Just after we got back from Leicester we had an offer from the lovely PBH Free Fringe people for a slot at a really nice venue but ALAS it was for a time we couldn't do - we're once again sharing our slot with CHESHIRE 4 LIFE (with us doing the first two weeks and them the last) and one of them is going to be TEACHING during the day, so we had to go back and beg for a different time. Thankfully a couple of days ago we had a NEW offer for a new time in a venue I've never been in before but which looks Quite Good - Sneaky Pete's on Cowgate. Rather brilliantly you can go and have a look around the venue on Google Streetview, so when we got the offer I spent a happy ten minutes looking in their FRIDGE! We said YES PLEASE so we're going to be on at 6:15pm each day, which is perfect for us, and the fact that it's RIGHT in the middle of things means we might even get some of that elusive "walk-up" trade! HOORAH!

    Sorting THAT out prompted me to go round and follow up some other LEADS, and we're gradually lining up a nice string of preview gigs, including several that I can't put up on the website just yet. It's all looking quite sensible, so now the two jobs remaining were getting ourselves REGISTERED and getting somewhere to STAY!

    Flat hunting is ongoing (if you hear the sound of RAGE emanating from North London this week it will probably be Steve hurling abuse at EITHER the UTTERLY INSANE amounts of money Edinburgh landlords can get away with charging in August OR the fact that they all want you pay that amount of money for the full three weeks), but at least registration is DONE. After careful consultation with Steve and The Words In My Paragraph I submitted the following image, title and TEXT to the Edinburgh Fringe:

    MJ Hibbett (and Steve)/PBH's Free Fringe - HEY HEY 16K
    New two-man musical from the team behind 'Dinosaur Planet', 'Moon Horse' and 'Total Hero Team', featuring Dad jokes, time travel, ZX Spectrums, Ada Lovelace, beer, tap dancing and Steve in the role of a lifetime: MJ Hibbett!


    It's Quite Important to get this right as it goes in The Big Edinburgh Fringe Book which loads of people (including me) use as the main way of picking shows to see. As the title of the show is our main selling point this year I thought that might be best for the image, and for the first time EVER my version of the BLURB was passed without change by any of our PR TEAM (hem hem), so hopefully it'll get some people in!

    With all that sorted I pressed the SUBMIT button, paid our 295 quid entrance fee, and that's that. WE'RE OFF - all we need now is somewhere to stay!

    posted 19/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Sitcom Lives
    As I was sat in the bath on Sunday evening, feeling finally On The Mend after a weekend of being Proper Poorly, I pondered my OUVRE, as one so often does in the bath.

    The reason for this specific pondering was a whole bunch of script competitions that I'd entered were releasing their results later that evening. As I pondered I realised that the script I was holding out MOST hope for was the 'Big Bang Theory' script I wrote last year for the Nickelodeon Writing Program. When I didn't get through to the final final of that I'd thought "Curses! I spent AGES working on that spec script and now it's useless!" but actually it has done me PROUD in competitions since, and I wondered if maybe I should think about doing something similar again.

    "Right," I thought, "I tell you what, ME, if any of the scripts I've entered gets anywhere tonight then I WILL write another Spec". My BRANE replied "OK then, here's some IDEAS for you!" and reeled off a whole HEAP of THORTS - it turns out that while it had been showing my fevered conscious mind really bad versions of Doctor Who it had secretly been out the back cooking up sitcom plots. Oh mighty BRANE! So sneaky!

    I spent much of the rest of the day clicking "Refresh" on official twitter feeds, waiting for announcements. I knew that one of the competitions was being announced at 2pm PST which, after a bit of googling turned out to be 10pm here, so after a while decided to leave it and make the tea, returning at 10pm again to keep refreshing. It was a weird feeling - I had FIVE different scripts in the mix and was quite excited to see if any would come up good, but what if they didn't? At least it would mean I didn't have to spend the next few weeks writing a spec script!

    The first to come in was Scriptalooza TV, for which I'd entered my 'Big Bang Theory' script AND the one for 'New Girl' that I did as follow-up. 'New Girl' didn't get anywhere but BLOW ME 'Big Bang Theory' got into the Quarter-Finals! ZANG!

    Just as I was saying "Wahey!" to The Awards On My Mantelpiece two emails popped into my inbox, one from Scriptalooza saying they'd just released their results and another from Bluecat saying they'd released the Top Ten Percent for their screenplay competition. This was the one I knew was announcing at 10pm, so I looked and HOLY HECK there was 'Storm House', the script I did for my final submission for school, in the running! There was much HALLOOING around the Olympic Village at that i can tell you. I was even more pleased about this one because I love 'Storm House', it is MINE and I've had so many people say "But this is too ridiculously expensive to ever MAKE, you twit!" that I'd really really like SOMETHING to happen with it. I mean, getting into the top ten percent is pretty much them saying "This was properly formatted, spell-checked, and is not immediately obviously the work of a MADMAN" but still, we'll see in a couple of weeks if it gets any further. Hoorah!

    The final announcement of the evening was the semi-final stage of the Stage 32 Happy Writers TV Writing Contest (no, I don't know why they were all announcing on the same day, especially a Sunday). I'd entered 'Big Bang Theory' and 'New Girl' for this one too, and already knew that poor old 'New Girl' had fallen by the wayside as they'd announced the quarter-finalists a couple of weeks ago. 'Big Bang Theory' however HAD got through to the Quarter Finals, which was MORE than enough for me. I wasn't expecting any more but BUGGER ME SIDEWAYS it had got through to the semi-finals stage too!!!

    It was around this point that my PUNY BRAIN went "POP" and I had to go and have a sit down. To be honest the whole Writing Thing has been a little bit stressful over the past few weeks - I'm offically A Professional Writer in the eyes of the tax office but my BANK probably has its doubts as I've now spent all my redundancy money and have thus had to dip into my savings. I really really REALLY didn't like having to do that PLUS there's been a string of Rejections Various for other projects this week and then to top it all off I was too poorly to go and see my Actual Play being staged on Saturday, so I was having a bit of a LOW NOTE about the whole thing. Thus having all these NICE things all happen within the space of ten minutes was RATHER a shock!

    Still, it was a jolly NICE shock, and now a few days later it's become a delightful BUZZ in the back of my BRANE. I know this may be as far as any of the scripts get and I'm VERY aware that there's no actual CA$H in any of it, but at least it's something that says "You are not ENTIRELY idiotic to be having a go at this, LO! keep at it for a bit if you like!" which is very much appreciated!

    posted 18/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Old Trouble
    Last Friday I met The Audience At My Gig for some TEA before heading over to The Borderline, where we had tickets to see Mr John Otway and his Big Band. As per it was an utterly AWESOME gig, made even more so by the facts that a) they did something NEW (Otway! Something new!) in the shape of a cover of 'Can't Explain' and b) also did lots of extra MUCKING ABOUT around the fact that it was nearly Deadly The Roadie's 40th Birthday. It was BRILLIANT, although as we moved through the first half I became increasingly uncomfortable - my poor old BACK had been playing up all week and now it was getting Proper Painful.

    Come the second half I felt like I was going to FALL OVER so retired to the back of the room for A Bit Of A Sit Down and also a glass of water, leaving The Action In My Mosh Pit to enjoy the rest of the gig from the front. It's actually all right at the back of the Borderline - the sound is dead good and they have screens so you can see the stage - but I felt ropey as HECK. As we walked home I started to get a FEVER and by the time we got back to the flat I was pretty sure what was going on: The Old Trouble.

    As long time readers may know, The Old Trouble is a side effect of my Psoriasis, when the skin cracks, gets infected, and ALL HECK breaks lose with swelling, fevers, nauseau, and the urgent need to GO TO BED for a day or two. In my case this usually occurs in "the lower back" region which is unpleasant at the best of times, but when combined with an Already Pretty Bad Back makes for NO FUN AT ALL. It's the first time it's happened for AGES tho - the first proper BOUT since we've live in The Olympics anyway - but I remembered the correct course of action and went directly to BED.

    Saturday went by in a blur of Just Lying In Bed, feeling poorly and not doing much else. It was weird, normally if I'm awake I want to have a book on the go, or watch telly, or SOMETHING, but this time I just wanted to lie quietly and be poorly. The only problem with this plan was that I had tickets to go out that night for a play - MY play, in fact, the second night of the run of "The Sexy Seven"! I had to face the fact that I couldn't go, which was VERY upsetting - I was finally getting a play on that I wasn't even IN, and was going to have to miss it!

    Luckily The Stages In My Plan FLEW into action and ZOOMED off to distant Camden, determined to see it on my behalf. There was a minor kerfuffle at the door, as the doorman wanted some ID (normally I get tickets for GIGS run by people I know, so we never really think of this), but The Names On My List is nothing if not INDOMITABLE and so managed to gain entry, and came home to tell me that the show had been GRATE! HOORAH!

    That evening I had THE SWEATS and a long long night of recurring FEVER DREAMS. A few years ago I had this happen where I dreamt an entire eighth series of 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine'. This time wasn't so serious, and I just dreamt an extended special edition of 'Doctor Who' with some very poor lookalikes playing past versions of The Doctor and some truly APPALLING special effects, especially for the Tardises which looked RUBBISH. You'd think if you're going to spend all night having a fever dream your BRANE would at least bother to sort out the CGI would't you?

    posted 17/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Up And Down Camden High Street With A Sofa
    Last Thursday was a big day in the theatre for me and also for a bunch of chums, as it was the Dress Rehearsal for "The Sexy Seven", the compendium of short plays that we had on at The Etcetera Theatre. Things had been going amazingly well for the show so far - we'd sold out of all tickets for Friday and Saturday with only a few left for Sunday - so I was expecting SOMETHING to go wrong, just so that we would obey the eternal laws of Doing A Show.

    SPOILERS: I was not to be disappointed.

    All was well when I arrived - I showed the actors how to get into the fish costumes I'd made (NB my play features two prehistoric fish, which I thought was terribly clever when I wrote it but less so when I had to spend HOURS working out HOW to make and then ACTUALLY making the costumes) and how to work my camera tripod for another play, then said hello to the various colleagues who were there. Mr A Dawson (PRODUCER) and Mrs A Ferrar (Props) were looking a bit worried because the sofa that they'd ordered as Main Prop hadn't arrived yet, but otherwise all seemed well so I popped out for some LUNCH.

    Over the road from the Etcetera was The inSpiral Cafe, a vegan raw food cafe that I'd looked in several times but had never been quite brave enough to actually enter. I steeled myself and did so, and was EXTREMELY glad that I did because the food was FANTASTIC. I had a raw creamy cashew cheese tart which was odd looking in many ways but DELICIOUS! As I'd designated Thursday as an official Day Off, I accompanied it with a cheeky lunchtime beer. HOORAH! As I ate a drank I marvelled at the wide range of Traditional Veggie Cafe TYPES, my favourite this time being Wild Haired Hippy Man Trying To Look Cool In Front Of Pretty Young Girl Wearing A Headband. It was a classic!

    I was just finishing off my SOY LATTE (if you're going to do these things you should do them properly) when I got a text from Alex saying that the sofa hadn't arrived, he was going to buy another one, could I meet him outside Argos? "AHA!" I thought, RELIEVED that Doing A Show was FINALLY happening, "So it begins!" Argos always seems to be FULL of people buying emergency props whenever we're in Edinburgh so this felt right and proper, even if a sofa is perhaps a little bit pricier than the norm.

    I set off to Argos, passing The Oxford Arms underneath the theatre, where I saw Alex and Alison and everyone sitting in the window. I went in to discover what had happened: our sofa had been ordered from a company in Birmingham, who'd arranged to deliver it to the pub. When it hadn't arrived by 3pm our team had rung, to be told that it had been delivered, just not to the pub! Further research got us an address, a "shoe shop" a few doors down.

    We had a name for the person who'd signed for it, so off we went to the "shoe shop" (actually a bog standard Camden Tat Shop), where one of the staff told us that the signer was the manager but he wasn't there, while others denied such a person worked there at all. HMMM. It was all A Little Bit Dodgy but there wasn't a whole heap we could do about it - we knew a delivery HAD been made there as TNT, the delivery company, had taken a photograph, but the staff denied all knowledge of a sofa so, needing one URGENTLY for the dress rehearsal, we headed down the road to Argos as planned.

    Here we ordered a sofa and patiently waited for it to be brought to us. I had visions of some great heavy item that would need a happy half hour of allen key wrangling to assemble, but when it arrived it was a very short piece of folded foam. It was a bit disappointing after the aforesaid VISION but did at least have the benefit of being easy to carry as Alex and I LUGGED it back up Camden High Street. As we walked i thought about what a total shit hole Camden High Street is, and how miserable everybody seems to be who lives there. It's like an Even Worse, Much Dirtier version of BRIGHTON, where people seem to think they can be RUDE all the time because they reckon they live somewhere that's All That. At least Brighton has veggie pubs and a seaside.

    We eventually got back to the pub, where one of the barstaff said "Is that another sofa?" "The first one didn't come" explained Alex. "Oh", said the chap. "There's one upstairs. It's just been delivered."

    Sure enough, while we'd been gone, the original sofa had magically turned up! There were two schools of thought as to how this had happened, EITHER the shop owner had got spooked by the fact we knew his name and had a picture of his shop so had decided to bring it back OR TNT had got two orders mixed up, had delivered something else to the tat shop earlier but marked it down as our delivery by mistake.

    Whichever way round it was we now had 200% of the sofas we actually needed, so Alex went back upstairs for the tech run and Ali and I went all the way back down Camden High Street again. This time my thoughts meandered to the sad way that Camden has appropriated Britpop and turned it into a heritage industry. They've commercialised Britpop! That's never what Britpop was about, right guys?

    When we eventually got to Argos we were greeted as old chums by staff members who happily reimbursed us so, in a very real sense, all was well. By the time we got back to the venue I felt I had earnt a PINT so GOT one and then went to sit in for the dress rehearsal that we'd all come for.

    It was dead good! My play was on first and the actors were fab, the costumes worked well, and there were LARFS aplenty (all right a lot of them were from me, but still) so I was very happy. The rest of the show was ACE too, although it got cut off about 80% of the way through because we were running late and another lot neeeded to come in. What we saw, though, showed that it was working - we had an Actual Show!

    Afterwards there was beer and chat and, eventually, talk of doing the whole thing again. It sounds like a GRATE idea to me, although maybe the next one could involve less furniture?

    posted 16/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Date
    The film that Mr J Dredge and I made last week (in an exciting 50 minutes of GUERILLA FILMMAKING) is now DONE and ONLINE and right HERE:



    It's precisely 16 seconds long so does WHIP by but I must say I'm rather proud of it. Obvs as a FILMMAKER (hem hem) I am happy that it tells a story but the things I like most about it are a) the sword fight b) that last shot where we went "OOH this will make a nice last shot" and c) the finger clicks on the song. Actually, the music took longer to do than the filming itself, as I had to try and calculate what BPM would work to bring the whole thing in at the right length AND leave space for a start and an ending. Originally the music was meant to be twice as fast but that made it seem REALLY quick so for the final version I sped up the BPM slightly then did the actual chords at half speed, so it all felt more leisurely while fitting more in. If you see what I mean.

    ANYWAY I hope you enjoy it and hope it brings a small sliver of delight to yr Valentine's Day!

    posted 13/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Second Showing
    After all the excitement of a day's recording in Derby, I was back in Leicester on Saturday evening ready for the second of our two Hey Hey 16K preview shows at The Criterion. Weirdly for me I was still suffering from THE FEAR, even though I knew it worked perfectly well, so attempted to cure myself with the usual medication i.e. BEER. It worked a bit, but relaxation was more forthcoming from the range of PALS who arrived, including Mr T McClure, who took the range of pictures below.











    Nice aren't they? The show was, once again, a whole HEAP of fun, especially as there was a chap in the front row who'd DEFINITELY come to see it because he remembered the song and thus went "OOH!" when we first played it, sang along, and even looked SURPRISED and PLEASED when (SPOILERS) we did the "It made a generation who can code..." bit. It was just as I imagined it might be doing the show for people who know the song, all we need now is about 15,000 people JUST like that at Wembley and it will be my dreams come to life!

    Afterwards Steve and I had some beers and a whole heap of CHAT around a big table full of lovely pals before retiring retired for the evening A Bit Drunk, stopping only at The King's Head on the way home for a WHISKY. It was odd being there - I have no recollection of going before but it WAS round the corner from my old work and I DID remember where the loos were, so I suppose I must have been. Anyway, we sat with our drinks and contemplated the show. It was, we both agreed, in a better state than ANY previous show had been at this point in the process, which surely foretells of high times and larks ahead. HOORAH!

    posted 12/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back In The Studio
    Ever since Steve and I started going to the Leicester Comedy Festival it's been a bit of a tradition that I should spend the Saturday over in Derby, recording something at Snug Studio. Last year this didn't happen (as The Vlads had nothing on the go) and it felt WEIRD, so I was very happy to be going back this time.

    I rolled up in Derby at about 10:30am, walked across town, and was greeted by Mr R Collins at the studio. It's great going back to Snug as they know me/us and we/I know them, so we can get straight into the usual PROCESS. This time I was doing vocals, so we did what we always do - I went into the booth and had a brief sing along to the track then did two complete vocal takes. Rich spent five minutes "comping" them (i.e. taking the least awful version of each line to make a best full take) which we listened to and then I went back and re-did any lines that still needed sorting out. It's a rather lovely way of doing it, as it means I never have to worry too much about getting a line exactly right (which is handy) and we usually come out with something pretty good.

    We had four tracks to sort out this time - We Did It Anyway, Burn It Down And Start Again, Leaping Hare In Broadgate and the JAM that we did when we were last there together. I had some lyrics spare for a song/POEM called Hills And Hollows so I tried those out and they worked Pretty Flipping Well, then Rich did a cunning EDIT of the track and suddenly we had a SONG! Hoorah!

    With vocals done I went through and put GUITAR onto each track (using a plectrum for the first time in ages - I'd forgotten I'd be doing this so only had a broken one in my pocket, which HURT to use after a while. ROCK HEROISM) then moved on to KEYBOARDS. Leaping Hare In Broadgate is based on the instrumental Hibbett's Superstore which has a LOVELY pretend organ part, which we replicated by me playing the root notes and then Rich doing STUDIO MAGIC to turn them into chords. It was fab!

    The very last thing to do was add a BEEPING noise to Hills And Hollows. I'd heard it MYSTICALLY whilst Rich was doing a quick mix and thought it might work - if nothing else it will make people go "Eh? What's that noise? Is the wachine machine finished?" whenever they hear it.

    With this vital piece of ROCK completed we hugged our goodbyes and I headed off back to the train station and to Leicester. All we need to now is get Mrs E Pattison in to do HER remaining vocals and LO! we have pretty much half an album done!

    posted 11/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The World Premiere
    Friday lunchtime saw Mr S Hewitt and I gathered at St Pancras to start the tour of our new show Hey Hey 16K in the traditional manner, with a PINT in the Sir John Betjeman. For LO! we were heading off to Leicester for our SEVENTH (7th!) consecutive year appearing at The Leicester Comedy Festival.

    It's been a couple of years since we last began performing a new show but we fell into the usual rhythms with EASE. After finishing our Inaugural Beers we got on the train and did LINEZ all the way to Leicester, intriguing and delighting our fellow passengers as we went. When we got to the Ibis and checked into our Usual Suites things went slightly awry, for me at least. I put down all my gear then popped next door to give Steve the comedy festival brochure... and left my KEY in my room, so I had to go downstairs and get a new one. I then tried to put the telly on but couldn't find the controller, so had to ring for one of those too. It was all fine, I just wish it had been a bit more AMUSING or full of INCIDENT! Still, it did allow me to enjoy some quality REPEATS on BBC2 when Steve alerted me to a showing of "Hi De Hi".

    Once we'd sated out need for classic sitcom we regrouped and headed over to The Criterion where we had the usual Pizzas, the usual BEERS, and met up with the usual selection of CHUMS. It was all rather lovely, only slightly marred for me by the fact that I was getting THE FEAR - i hardly ever get THE FEAR these days and it was not a welcome return, though I suppose it was warranted, what with the entire new show we were about to do.

    And do it we did! We had about thirty people in, which was pretty darn good going, and they seemed to enjoy it. I did a warning beforehand that there would be errors and indeed there were, as well as some Points To Ponder (there's one section in particular that needs retooling) but overall it was pretty good. I don't think there were any GAGS that fell flat, and doing reprises and HITS towards the end was a GRATE idea! Still, we're going to have to get a LOT fitter if we're going to be doing it every day come August - that tap dancing is KNACKERING!

    Afterwards we had a heap of beer, had two separate people suggest the SAME song to be added in, and generally relaxed and had LARFS. It was an EXCELLENT start!

    posted 10/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Curse Of Totally Acoustic
    The last series of Totally Acoustic was RIDDLED with illness, as nearly every time someone was unable to perform due to being poorly, so I was hoping that THIS series would be a bit healthier.

    No such luck, for on Thursday morning I got an email from Mr S Love, saying he wouldn't be able to play due to Food Poisoning. I'd been following the progress of his illness on twitter, so was aware HOW poorly he was but I'd hoped he'd be better in time for the gig as I was RIGHT looking forward to seeing him. We've got him coming back in May, hopefully he'll be at peak fitness then!

    The show must go on though, and I thought we'd probably be OK with A Little Orchestra and Model Village both still GO for GIG. SPOILERS: we were!

    I rolled up at The King & Queen to find a VERY clean shaven Mr S Hewitt waiting for me - he's had a big old bushy beard of late, but decided to remove it for the purposes of ART i.e. he's playing a 15 year old version of ME in the new show, and as far as I recall I didn't have a big old bushy beard back then. I saluted his commitment, also his youthful new look - he doesn't look a day over 39!

    More people arrived, the room was put into order, and those of us singing with A Little Orchestra had a quick practice before it was suddenly SHOW TIME and me (and Steve) went on first and did THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • Back For Good
  • History's Re-written
  • I Think You Might Be Me
  • The Future Is Amazing
  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • We Can Start Having Fun

  • Starting with a cover version seems odd, but it seemed to work OK, and then Steve joined me to DEBUT three of the songs from Hey Hey 16K. It was a little bit confusing having to try and explain what was going on, but I think it was all right, and did at least get some LARFS!

    After that A Little Orchestra came on to do It Only Works Because You're here featuring Mr S Hewitt on vocals. Well, he's been SUCH a good boy with learning his lines this year that I thought he deserved a treat, and OH BOY did he give every appearance of enjoying it! It's hardly surprising - singing with A Little Orchestra is BRILL, as I found once again when I did We Can Start Having Fun next. It was a New Arrangement by Mr A Hudson which sounded LOVELY, as you'll hopefully hear in the podcast!

    After a break it was time for Model Village who were, as per, GRATE. It was mostly new material which they haven't even recorded yet, and as most of the songs apparently don't have titles that means I'll get to choose my own when I edit the podcast! They finished with "Josefina", which also features A Little Orchestra and which i hope will ALSO get into the podcast.

    When they finished I realised with glee that it was only 9pm, which meant there was time for another pint before heading home at an EXTREMELY civilised hour,for LO! the next day we were off to LEICESTER and a WORLD PREMIERE!!

    posted 9/2/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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