Sunday, September 30, 2007

Teenage Angst

I subscribe to an arts news & jobs service and received this notice this week.

Part public-service, part anti-vanity project; we are putting together the
most wonderfully, desperately, earnestly poor collection of teenage poetry we
can source and are hoping that you can help us. We will accept work from anyone
over 20 but the work has to be your own, the subject something you can look back
and laugh about now, and the quality along the lines of; '1it's a mystery how
this has escaped burning! The glory will be non-existent as the poems will be
printed anonymously, so this isn't a good option for anyone who is secretly
hoping that someone will think their poetry is really rather good and offer them
a massive publishing deal. Similarly, comedians need not apply, we're only
interested in work which is unintentionally humorous. Unfortunately we can't pay
you; this enterprise is purely for fun and to celebrate a shared pubescent
talent-deficit, however a lovely copy of the anthology can be sent to you for
the meagre cost of home-printing and postage. Please have a good root through
your old journals and select us some thrilling oddities! Poems should be sent to

Sadly, I seem to have lost my book of teenage scrawlings somewhere along the line, otherwise I'm certain I would have several contributions to make to this.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Take Two

There was a huge buzz around the screening of 'Being Michael Madsen' mainly because the man himself was going to be there, and Michael Madsen is a genuine star. Okay, so he's not Robert De Niro, but people know him, even if he is apparently trying to shake off the tag of being 'the one from Reservoir Dogs'. So the screening was sold out, but I was lucky enough to get a free ticket.

The film is a mockumentary about Michael Madsen turning the tables on a tabloid journalist by having him filmed by a documentary crew. It mainly consisted of talking heads from Madsen, his celebrity friends and sisiter (who completely stole the show) and actors playing the documentary makers and the journalist (Jason Alan Smith from the bar the previous night!). I enjoyed the film - it lost pace a bit about three quarters of the way through and also probably suffered by everyone else (bar his sister) being so far overshadowed by Madsen, who is just so big a prescence. Afterwards, there was a quick Q&A, where the director came out with the same dislike for documentary makers he had expressed the night before. Madsen was gruff and huge, which is what being Michale Madsen is all about.

I wasn't sure whether I was going to stay for the next film or not - being out late every night was taking its toil. But the tickets weren't selling well and having been talking to the man behind the film the night before, I felt bad at the thought of it being empty. Of course, I didn't exactly buy a ticket, I got a freebie as part of my volunteer staff status. I am so so glad I decided to stay. Alex Holdridge (is this name dropping if someone isn't actually famous yet -future namedropping perhaps?) was so nervous and to make matters worse, there was a technical problem with the sound. While it was being sorted, the lead actor, Scoot went down to the front of the audience and started talking to keep people's attention.

"In Search of a Midnight Kiss" is the best film I've seen in a long time. It was so good, I nearly cried. Its about a man going on a date with a woman on New Year's Eve. Alex described it to me as like 'Before Sunrise' with more jokes, and comparisons with that are inevitable as it involves a couple who've just met, walking around a city talking. But really that does it an enormous disservice (and I told him this afterwards when he asked what I thought). I found Before Sunrise rather pretentious, the dialogue and situation unrealistic but this felt so real. It was beautifully shot in black & white, the music was amazing, the acting was great - Scoot McNairy being incredibly likeable (unlike Ethan Hawke). But if you liked Before Sunrise, you'd like this, and if you didn't like Before Sunrise, you'll like this. There was an older couple sat in our row (probably in their sixties) and the man stood up and said that he realised he wasn't the film's demographic, but he and his wife thought it was wonderful.

Anyway, I really can't do this film justice. Go and see it when it is released. It is going to be released in America (and hopefully the UK too) around Valetine's Day as "a romantic film for cynics", which it is perfect for if you believe that every cynic is just a disappointed romantic.


I am consumed by the Raindance Film Festival. Apologies if this is boring to anyone, but there isn't much else going on in my life at the moment - my existence has been taken over by indie films, indie actors, indie directors and indie producers. I'm still going to work during the day, but my evenings have been all about the festival.

Wednesday night - I was working the festival box office in Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue. This Cineworld is located in the lower reaches of hell, aka the top floor of the Trocadero Centre. The Trocadero Centre is so awful - the tacky shops, the flashing lights and infinite noise of the arcades of the inappropriately named Fun World. In the midst of this, is an independent film festival - two worlds have collided!

Thursday night - I was ushering at the Rex. The Rex is a private club and screening room (it used to be called The Other Cinema, which always led to confusion). It is plush, comfortable and a brilliant setting for the festival, even if the beer is stupidly expensive. So I'm ushering, but its a private party for Delta Airlines, so there isn't much to do. I hold the door open, smile at people, make sure the screening goes ok. The screening is the 5 short films that are up for the Best UK Short prize at the festival. As is often the way with shorts, they were a mixed bag. The first one Cherries was my favourite, a dark vision of the not-too-distant future where the continuing war in Iraq means schoolboys are conscripted into the armed forces.

After the screening, there wasn't anything to do other so I ended up sat with a mixture of Raindance volunteers & staff and associated film types. Actually, Thursday ended up being a prequel to Friday as I was talking with Alex Holdridge, the writer and director of "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" and Mike Mongillo and Jason Alan Smith, the writer/director and actor respectively from "Being Michael Madsen", which were the two films I saw on the Friday night. I don't expect anyone to have heard of any of these people yet, but if Alex Holdridge doesn't become a famous director, there is no justice in the world, but I'm getting ahead of myself here - I'll come onto the films later.

As I may have mentioned before, I suffer from almost crippling shyness at times, so finding myself in these situations where I need to make conversations with total strangers is incrediby hard for me, but that aside it was a surprisingly fun night. The bizarre conversations we had in our group included the following:

the size of Jude Law's penis, politics & apathy, Ethan Hawke, why big breasts are unnecessary, the smoking ban, what's wrong with documentary makers, suicide, Michael Madsen

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Petty Criminals

On the radio this morning there was a discussion about defending yourself and your property from burglars, what you can and can’t do etc. They were interviewing a man who interrupted a burglar and was told by the police that he should have given the burglar “a good kicking”.

I’m not interested at the moment in discussing the rights and wrongs of this, but it was the man’s next comment that interested me. He said that as well as breaking into his house with the intention of stealing, the burglar had bitten the heads off all of the gingerbread men his children had baked! How nasty is that?

I don’t expect burglars to be nice but really that seems a rather petty thing to do. And rather stupid too as if he hadn’t stopped to bite their heads, he may have had time to get away with the television etc.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Moonlighting at Raindance

Volunteering at an independent film festival probably isn’t most people’s idea of fun and I’ve no idea how it became mine, but this week and next, I’m volunteering at the Raindance Film Festival. I volunteered a few years back and had a great time, but since then life and mainly work commitments (the small matter of having a gallery to run in my spare time) stopped me from doing it again. But this year, I’ve got more time on my hands so I offered to help out again. I love film festivals but unless you can somehow blag a pass (I’ve achieved this once) it is either very expensive or you’re faced with the choice of deciding between umpteen films. But by volunteering, I’m saving myself the money and procrastination.

Last night was the opening night and as befits the name, it was a dreary rainy night, but what a great night it was. I was ushering for the opening night film, a none-too-difficult job of just making sure people could find their seats (including Mick Jones from The Clash!!!), after which I got to watch the film for free. The film was Weirdsville, a Canadian slacker comedy directed by the same person who did Pump Up the Volume. Its no Citizen Kane, but it was really funny and set the tone for the evening nicely. Before the film was a prize draw (what is it with raffles at film screenings lately?) for a guitar which was drawn by Mick Jones – sadly as a volunteer I couldn’t enter.

After the film, naturally was the After Party which was at Sound in Leicester Square. I wouldn’t normally go to a nightclub in Leicester Square, especially not on a Tuesday night, but as ever there was the irresistible pull of getting something for free. So a group of us went down there, all still resplendent in our festival t-shirts and feasted on free Cobra lager. The music was pretty good (mainly current indie stuff, then a live band along the lines of Hot Chip), Russell Brand was there, along with a lot of wannabe actors hoping to be discovered. Us volunteers stuck together, finding each other easily due to the t-shirts (it was still possible to tell a lot about a person by the way they wore their t-shirt). It was good fun considering we were a bunch of people who didn't know each other at the start of the day.

I showed remarkable restraint and left at 11.30 - I'm not as young as I once was and it was a Tuesday. I'm still absolutely exhausted today though. My keyboard has looked inviting as a pillow and I was tempted to crawl into a discarded box in the corridor for a nap earlier.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Window onto Another World

On Wednesday afternoon I went to a fashion show. Yes, that’s right – me at a fashion show! I was at the SmithSpence show at the Royal Academy of the Arts, part of the On/Off series.

I’m not really a fashion person. I realise I have written about fashion a few times here but that has mainly been my obsession with appropriateness – wearing the right thing at the right time (which might actually be the antithesis of fashion to many). I suppose I’m also interested in where fashion crosses over with other things - if life was a Venn diagram, I’d be interested in the bit of fashion where it intersects with music, film, art etc. But I don’t know anything much about fashion designers as it isn’t something that impacts on my life, having a resoundingly high street budget.

So what was I doing at a fashion show? This will blow my anonymity if anyone involved finds this, but I think I should explain – I wouldn’t want people thinking I’d gatecrashed. The designer Julian (the Smith) is the younger brother of my best friend (K) from university. K was in London for one day to see her brother’s show so invited me along so that we could meet up while she was here.

The champagne was free-flowing and it was great to see K and her whole family again. Parents, aunts and cousins had all turned up en masse to see the show - the father compared it to the end of Billy Elliot where the northern folk go to see him dance. Their mother was still an absolute star, fussing, probing and giving advice in exactly the same way she had throughout our university days and still comparing me to her old college friend. We were then invited back to the house of the business partner (the Spence) – a smart Belgravia house, the likes of which the likes of me wouldn’t normally see the inside of, which added a further surreal dimension to the day.

So what of the fashion show itself? Speaking as someone involved in the theatre and events organisation, I realised the immense pressure that putting on a show must create. Months of work all leading up to this brief show, this one chance to get it right, to impress. No wonder people were nervous. It started late (I believe this is common – unlike in the theatre where great pride is taken in getting that curtain up on time) but other than that it seemed to go smoothly. None of the model tripped coming down the staircase. And the dresses were amazing.

Every industry has its own vocabulary and in writing this, I realise I don’t really possess the right words to describe it as it isn’t my realm (perhaps Mrs Fashion might pop up to help?). The collection was dresses. I think it is what would be described as couture as they won’t be selling the dresses onto shops, but are individually handmade for each customer. On the whole, they were the sort of thing you’d wear at a premiere, although there were a few that could work as day dresses. Julian is obviously very talented and it was great to see someone having some success in their chosen field.

In the past, I’ve been sceptical of designer clothes and their price tags, thinking how much better can a bag/shoe/dress be (there is a book out now that is about the top designer names not using the best quality materials these days) but these dresses were entirely something else. Everything had been handsewn, the detailing was amazing, even down to how the fastening had been sewn on (I had the benefit of seeing them up close afterwards) and the cut of the material was so good that words like float and flow could be taken quite literally. And whilst I’m unlikely to ever have the money if I did have a spare couple of thousand, I think it would be better spent on one of these dresses than a couple of big name designer handbags.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


The only seat free on the bus this morning was in front of a man and woman talking at an intrusive volume. At first I was annoyed that I couldn’t concentrate on reading my book with their incessant talking behind me but then I abandoned my reading and decided their conversation was more interesting anyway.

It was immediately obvious that this pair were not friends, family or lovers but work colleagues and their whole conversation revolved around someone called Trevor who was causing them both a problem. But this was a work conversation, so their dislike for Trevor was shrouded in business speak, each of them using carefully selected phrases that whilst getting their message across, could not be used against them at a later date should the other one turn. People do not speak like this in real life, only at work, but what struck me as odd about this conversation was that it was taking place on a bus in the suburbs. These sorts of conversations don’t seem so strange on a train but it seemed so wrong on a double-decker bus.

It was not evident what Trevor had done, but apparently he was in a better position than our pair as he had a powerful ally in (the Dickensian named) Gerry Mudd. Gerry Mudd was taking Trevor’s side and this was a problem. The man of our pair understood this to be a problem, but a solution was not so simple.

“We need a representative on earth” he said. Were they some sort of gods? I’m picturing a council of immortals like in ‘Clash of the Titans’. He continued ‘Of course we did have Drysdale in there, but then he went native’. Went native! A term I’ve only heard used when talking about undercover police work! Who speaks like this?

There was some mention of a railway. I was disappointed when the bus journey ended as I was intrigued by what field this pair were in – railway espionage it sounded like. (I think they might have worked for a local authority in reality)

I think I talk too plainly to ever succeed in these sorts of fields. On a related note, tomorrow I’m going to Lichfield. I’ve nothing against Lichfield. I know absolutely nothing about it. Except it sounds like the sort of place people like the bus pair would go on business. If I say outloud the phrase ‘I’m in Lichfield tomorrow’ I sound like one of them.

Friday, September 14, 2007

In the news

Amongst the doom, gloom and Madelaine McCann rumours, these have been my favourite news stories this week:

The couple who live in a Travelodge
The old couple who have been living in a motorway hotel for 22 years which has saved them hundreds of pounds in bills. I’ve always fancied taking up residence in a hotel myself – Howard Hughes did, although he had a whole floor to himself and I presume it was somewhere a bit grander than Travelodge.

Paddington Bear advertises Marmite
This made the news because the Bear was famous for his love of marmalade sandwiches, but now he is advertising Marmite. The report I read had even got a quote from a marmalade company expressing their disappointment that Paddington was abandoning marmalade for another choice of spread.

Italians boycott pasta for a day
Consumer groups urged Italians not to buy pasta on Thursday in protest at its rise in price. I’m all for people power and the right to protest, and as much as I love this story, I’m not sure how effective it was, because it would only make a difference if you ran out of pasta on Thursday. If you had a good stock of various types at home, its unlikely you’d have to buy some on that given day. Even I never run out of pasta entirely and I’m no domestic goddess. A week or longer abstention may have had more effect.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Daytime Pyjamas: Discuss

I had heard of about ‘Daytime Pyjamas’ on the radio, but I had not witnessed first hand this cultural phenomena. Until this morning.

I was caught up in the pavement traffic of mothers dropping off young children at nursery, and amongst their number was a woman in cotton powder pink, blue and white striped bottoms. Could they just be ill-advised trousers? Surely not? Surely nobody makes trousers in that pattern and colours for adults? They were definitely pyjamas.

I’d heard about this new trend, supposedly very big in Liverpool, coming to popular attention when a head teacher complained about it. But I didn’t realise it had spread to London. Why do this? Apparently it isn’t mega laziness of not getting ready, but women have a dedicated daytime pair to change into especially for these purposes.

Now I love a comfortable pair of pjs as much as the next slacker, and I do confess to popping out into the garden in my slippers and dressing gown to tend to my tomatoes (they are so demanding at times I don’t have a chance to get dressed, I just have to answer their calls!), but really I wouldn’t go out the front of the house in that state and certainly wouldn’t walk the streets in that state of undress.

What kind of an example is that to set their children? Society is crumbling before our eyes!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Heroes of the Week

1. Jim Reid
The second Friday in a row, I spent the evening watching The Jesus and Mary Chain. Once again they were brilliant, better by miles than most of today's young rock n roll upstarts. And the part played by their frontman can not be overplayed. He is the definition of cool, from the way he hangs on his mike stand to his insouciant 'hey hey heys' and 'ah ha has' .

2. Ian Rankin
His Rebus books are my stock travel readings, because they are pretty easy-going without the brain-numbness of Chick Lit. But the reason for his inclusion here is the answer he gave to an interview question in Metro this week. He was asked what he was bought with the money from the Rebus books, to which he replied 'I'm basically still living like a student. I've just bought loads of CDs, books and films, but I've just bought a USB turntable to convert my vinyl'. Truly a man after my own heart. (I find him quite attractive too - is this wrong?)

3. Elliot Grove
He is the founder of Raindance, the independent film festival and training company. He introduced the film on Wednesday night. I've met him before, but I'd forgotten how cool he is. Even when he's doing the hard sell on his festival or talking technical film speak. He's like a Canadian Christopher Lee (circa The Wicker Man) - that's a good thing.

4. Frankie Boyle
The cynical Scottish comedian who is the funniest person on 'Mock the Week' week after week. He's convinced the world is about to end, he's harsh, shows no mercy for anything or anyone, sometimes takes things too far. But he consistently makes me laugh, which is much needed when everywhere else is all death and destruction.

5. Chuck Klosterman
I came across his writing recently after following links on the Melanethos blog, and based on this I decided to give one of his books ago. I started with 'Killing Yourself To Live' which Chuck travels around the USA visiting the sites of rock n roll deaths. Boy, can this man write. I read it in about a day. I bought 'Chuck Klosterman IV' a collection of his essays for my trip to Scotland and again read that in record time. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in music and pop culture (even he does look a bit like Corey Feldman!). I'm waiting for 'Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Pops' to arrive next, and I'm hoping he'll get a move on and write some more books as I'm running out.

6. The Abode Hotel in Glasgow
We recuperated here after the festival. I wish we could have stayed longer. It was the best hotel I've ever stayed in. Housed in an old Education Department Building, it had an old-fashioned elevator with a cage. Our room had a triple height ceiling, stained glass window, the world's most comfortable bed, and a shiny bathroom (I have a thing for hotel bathrooms - I think it might be the tiling!), as well as a flatscreen tv, cd/dvd player, robes etc. I think we may have been given a free upgrade, as I can't believe this was their standard level room - we had a sofa and armchair too and a vast amount of space. I could easily have lived there, but as that isn't possible, I'll definitely be having a break in another of their hotels.

7. Keira Knightly's Green Dress in Atonement
I've no intention of seeing the film as I can't stand Keira Knightly usually, but I've seen several pictures of this green dress this week, and it is stunning. I'm quite partial to a green dress myself anyway and this is devine.

I realise now that four of these Heroes are Scottish (I'm uncertain of the nationality of the dress!) - perhaps this week I wish I was Scottish.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Action Packed

As is my habit, this week I’ve been watching “popular films that everybody else saw years ago”, namely the first two Bourne films. I think we decided to watch them because of the excitement the third film seemed to be greeted with by everybody, and we wanted something easy-on-the-brain to watch following the festival exhaustions. I actually quite enjoyed the first one, the European locations looked good and it allowed me to contemplate the significance of memory loss and the strange workings of the human brain. The second one I enjoyed less – there didn’t really seem much to it, except a few big chases, very little to provoke thoughts. So I won’t be rushing to the nearest multiplex (shudders) to catch the third instalment.

In sharp contrast, I ended up at the Raindance Film Club on Wednesday evening. As the publicity for the Film Club says, there are 3 rules of Raindance Film Club:
Fab Film, 2. Free Admission, 3. Free Beers.
It really is surprising I’ve not managed to get myself along to one of these before.
The film this month was ‘Cavite’ a low-budget thriller about a Muslim American man who returns to his roots in Philippines to visit his mother and sister, only to receive a phonecall on arrival to say they are being held hostage. He is then guided around the area of Cavite by the voice on the phone, through an alien world of slums and violence, where he must obey the terrorist to secure his family’s safety. The plot was a simple premise and I’m sure Hollywood will at some point have done something similar but without the same intelligence.

There was also an interesting story behind the making of the film. The writers/directors were all set to go to Manila when their main backer pulled out, leaving them with no money to pay for actors or crew. But they made the decision to make the film regardless – one of them took on the lead role, the other became the cameraman. It was a bold move, but the film is still great. The titles are hilarious though as everything was pretty much done by these two.

As the subject matter suggests, this ain’t a barrel of laughs, but it is available on Region 1 DVD from Amazon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Why I won't be going to another festival

There are lots of bad things about festivals, but really I think I can put up with most of them:

Mud - Buy a pair of wellingtons, then it really isn't much of a problem. And it gives your thighs a good workout walking through it for three days.

Weather - It might rain, but again this isn't a problem if you are properly attired, and I've finally cracked the way to dress at a festival. Flimsy dress (it will dry quickly), tights and wellingtons, add cardigan & waterproof jacket as required. Looks good but practical. I was told by a random woman that I looked perfect! This was on the second day - she may not have said that same by the end of the third day, but still it was a nice thing to have said.

Toilets - They are going to be horrid but its only a couple of minutes out of your life. It also stops you drinking too much as you don't want to have to go more than is strictly necessary.

Sleeping in a Tent - the way forward is definitely Tangerine Fields - a perfectly pitched tent waiting for you, with no hassle. Ours didn't leak despite the rain and I was warm enough.

Queuing - you queue to get in, you queue for beer, you queue for food and worst of all you queue for the loo. Its boring, but I'm English, its practically a national sport.

Lack of Cleanliness - everyone is the same situation, so it really isn't that big a deal. Its amazing what you can do with an assortment of wipes and dry shampoo. It is probably better if the weather isn't too good though as lots of sweaty bodies is actually worse than mud.

So what is it that has made me decide I don't want to go to another festival? Let me explain.

Whilst undoubtedly there is more to most festivals than the headline acts (especially at Glastonbury), to me it is still about music, one way or another. The camping and all that other stuff is just a means to an end, a way to get to see a lot of good bands and DJs at once. But it would seem that to many other festival goers, this isn't the means to an end, but the end itself. There were people in our field who weren't bothering to go into the festival site much, they were content to sit around outside their tents, smoking and talking. And I can't see the point in paying £130 to do that, but it seems I'm in the minority.

The reason I'm in the minority of course is that I don't smoke cannabis/dope/weed (I don't even know what people call it these days). I have absolutely nothing against this for a health/legality/moral standpoint, but really it is incredibly dull. Stoned people are incredibly dull. And I don't need a drug to make me dull - I'm boring enough naturally.

So I'm trying to get some sleep and I'm actually pretty good at sleeping when there is noise. If I'm tired enough I'll crash out. But having to listen to the inane, repetitive conversations of stoned people was too much for me.

There was one group of twenty-somethings who were all enthralled to the ramblings of an older bloke (probably late 40s, but it was hard to tell) - we'll call him the Tin Pot Philosopher (TPP). I've honestly never heard some much nonsense come from one human being. He sang sang the entire theme tune from the kids' programme 'Poddington Peas' much to everyone else's delight, as if they were witnessing the second coming of John Lennon. TPP then incesantly made comparisons between a dog's penis and a lipstick (I swear he must have said this 50 times between the hours of 4am and 6am). Then apropos of nothing (at around 7.30), he just shouted 'Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly' - I'm well aware that this is the name of a band, but why he chose to shout it then wasn't clear.

But the final straw was when one of his followers asked him what the meaning of life was. His response:

'I'd rather be an Emporer Penguin than give you a simple answer to that question'

So that is why I'm not going to festivals anymore.

Get Yourself Connected

We went to the festival for the music, so here it is.


Andy Votel (DJ Set) - he turned up very late, which gave the DJ before an excuse to play 'Slave to the Rhythm' by Grace Jones, which is unacceptable. Votel played a lot of good stuff that nobody else has ever heard of, which is kind of the point, but makes writing about it difficult.

The Aliens - A band comprising a couple of ex-members of the Beta Band and Lone Pigeon. They were ok, but really haven't developed a distinctive sound of their own yet. Apart from the song Robot Man, everything they did sounded like something from the 60s, which normally I don't mind, but really I could pretty much sing 'Jean Genie' in its entirety over one song, and another was just 'Comfortably Numb'.

The Jesus & Mary Chain - the main reason for going and they didn't disappoint. Despite recent reports, I was pleased to see that Jim Reid did not look like Pete Postlethwaite. Yes, they're older (but aren't we all? Most people at the festival were over 30) but they didn't sound old which was the main thing. The OH expressed some disappointment that the whole crowd didn't sing along with 'Snakedriver' as he was looking forward to hearing thousands of people singing "I've got syphilitic hetro friends in every part of town".

The Go! Team - we just saw the last two songs of their set. I hate them with a passion. Their music is ok, some of its quite good, but they are just too upbeat for me, and the woman's inane chatter drives me mad. "Tonight, we are going to do the live version of this song". Stating the bleeding obvious woman, what else were you going to do playing live?

Beastie Boys - I must say I was rather disappointed with them. I don't know what more I was expecting (I've seen them twice before so kind of know what they do) but following the majesty of the JAMC, they sounded a bit like a novelty act. The best bit was Mike D threatening to storm the castle and take on the Duke, and claiming that their DJ had made the streets safe to walk by killing the Loch Ness monster.


1990s/Fire Engines/The Only Ones - We fully intended to see these groups, and I really wish we had, however we got caught up in a conversation with a fisherman/farmer called Graham in the pub. He hadn't heard of any of the bands on the bill except Bjork (who he mispronounced) and who quizzed us about the festival and life in London as if we were aliens. Big wave to Graham if he's reading, which of course, he won't be, because he doesn't own a compter.

Bats for Lashes/Vashti Bunyan - we saw the end of the former, waiting for the start of the latter, but left after two songs of Vashti as frankly she was poor. She had a huge choir on stage with her, and didn't seem to be singing much herself. Both acts were a bit wet really.

Teenage Fanclub - There's nothing to not like about the Fannies (as a few people still call them). They call melodic power power, they play very well and I seemed to know all of the words to most of their songs, despite not having bought an album by them for about 12 years.

Modest Mouse - the OH stayed at the main stage to watch Mogwai and I braved walking across the site on my own to see Modest Mouse, and I'm really glad I did. They now have Johnny Marr playing guitar for them, after he replied to an ad looking for a Johnny Marr-like guitarist. Johnny Marr is the most beautiful person on the planet. This is a fact. He's also pretty good on the guitar and I think most people were there to see him, which most be difficult for any band he joins. I wasn't just there to see him (I've gone beyond walking through mud because I fancy a guitarist) -I do actually like Modest Mouse. They played a great set and played my favourite song 'Bukowski' which I really didn't think they would.

Echo & The Bunnymen - another band we didn't actually see. Ordinarily we would have, but they were up against Primal Scream. A lad from Bath said he was going to watch them because he'd 'probably never get the chance to see them play to so few people again' - this argument didn't persuade us - I can understand the rational if it is seeing them in a small venue, but not just because they aren't as popular as another band. I feared McCulloch would take it personally.

Primal Scream - I cannot remember how many times I've seen Primal Scream live, but I do know that this is the most sober I've ever been, even though I was sipping a mojito throughout their set! It started ominously when someone in the crowd soaked Mani with a pint of lagar and Mani called a halt to everything and invited the coward who'd thrown it to come up stage and have a proper fight. Unsurprisingly nobody stepped forward. Besides this minor setback, they were on good form. Bobby was upbeat and danced like a fool. The songs from the last record sounded pretty good, but it was the old stuff that was the best. They ended with 'Damaged' 'Loaded' and 'Movin' On Up' - all brilliant. Bizarrely, they didn't play 'Kowalski' which we'd heard being soundchecked all day.


Idlewild - We saw them do a soundcheck on our walk into the town. I'm not a fan really but it sounded pretty good.

Paul Hartnoll's Ideal Condition - They were excellent and they did a version of Orbital's The Box with instruments. But (and this is hardly their fault), I don't really want to hear Orbital stuff anymore - it makes me too nostalgic for a time that has passed.

Polyphonic Spree - one of the highlights of the festival. They set up behind a big red ribbon which Tim de Laughter cut through in a heart shape. They know how to put on a show. They started off in their new black military uniforms but they were still singing songs about the sun. Then they went off and changed into their robes, and did a cover version of Nirvana's Lithium (see below & fast forward 3 minutes). Near enough Gospel music. I had to put my sunglasses on as I was very near to crying (and I wasn't alone).

The Bays - Really really good dance music. We couldn't stay for all their set as we had to watch Big Star.

Big Star - I was so worried this was going to be bad, but it wasn't. We were stood right at the front - thank you to the OH for standing through this, even though he doesn't really know them. They were pretty good and played Ballad of El Goodo' which was great. I was slightly disappointed that they didn't play some of my favourites (She's a Mover, Get What You Deserve) but I'm still really pleased I saw them. They made a few good jokes about Teenage Fanclub too.

LCD Soundsystem - Very disappointing. They didn't do 'Losing My Edge' or 'Jump into the Fire'. We should have gone to see Hot Chip instead.

Outdoor Gear

I'm sat in Glasgow Bus Station looking at the rucksack at my feet, and the label on it that says 'Outdoor Gear'. I can't believe that I own something called 'Outdoor Gear', much less have cause to use it.

My youth was (mis) spent in clubs, gigs, cinemas, galleries - I am decidely indoorsy. But here I am about to get on a bus to the middle of nowhere, where I will spend three nights in a tent.

How did this happen? What mistakes did I make in life that led me at 32 years of age to be going to be camping at a music festival?

The next few posts are the story of my recent trip to the Connect Music Festival. Its a tale that involves Music, Mud and Mojitos, but mainly Mud.