Sunday, 28 November 2010

Someday my prints will come

Why wait? You can get them right here...

If you are around next Saturday, come along... If you work at all near, please print off & stick up at work. (about to lose my wheatpaste virginity & go & stick 'em up all around Bethnal Green & Hackney. It's bloody cold though. The things I do for money. How do you make wheatpaste anyway? Maybe I'll just buy a tube of superglue instead.)

Artists include Wuon-Gean Ho, Philippa Merrett, Marcelle Hanselaar, Fabio Corruzzi, Luce Cleeren, Katie Jones, Jacki Baxter, Katherina Manolessou, Ann Norfield, Anna Alcock and Claire Hynds. View their work on the ELP website below.

Sharing/linking/tweeting etc much appreciated - I promise I'll shut up about this soon.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Any Human Heart

Hm. Good cast, well filmed, well adapted, etc, but leaving me cold so far. Why?

1.) It all seems a bit pointless. The book was great, & the adaptation pretty faithful, but it seems to have knocked the life out of it. It's sterile.

2.) Framing the whole thing with old Logan puttering around in his shed reminiscing with his old diaries is a terrible idea, the reason why the book was moving was because it was someone's diary, which gave it an immediacy. When he grows old by the end of the book, you feel his surprise at how he's aged and diminished, because it's as if you've lived his life along with him. Showing him old at the beginning of the programme destroys this poignancy of ageing and the sense of living his story.

3.) Having to condense it & cut out all the minor incidents & characters makes it less rich. It's a tv series, not a movie, did they have to?

4.) Fatal Hollywood gloss. In the book, his first lover is a dumpy farm girl (yay for dumpy girls!) who seduces him. On TV of course, she is a gorgeous femme fatale. And Hayley Atwell, playing the love of his life, is very gorgeous, but in the book is just an ordinary attractive girl. We like looking at beautiful people it's true, but one of the points in the book is that we don't always fall in love with raving beauties. It just makes it all less real and true. (And they didn't feel the need to cast unbelievably beautiful actors for the men.)

Once again, books pwn tv.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


We're sitting downstairs in the bar after the karaoke, enjoying a well earned drink after our labours, he picks up a tiny little hat someone has made & left on the table (dress code: wear a hat.) It is like a miniscule top hat, with a lace veil attached.
"Whose is this? It can't belong to a person. It's too small. It looks like it would fit an animal..." He measures it in his hands.
"Maybe a squirrel?" I suggest.
"No, no squirrel has a head that big..."
"An owl?"
We look at it. He raises an eyebrow. "An owl... A small owl..."
Then we say in chorus "A barn owl!"
We have just started talking and I'm enjoying the instant silliness of the conversation. We get onto talking about London, about where our families are from
"Russia & Poland"
"Me too!"
"... they lived in Petticoat Lane..."
"mine too! I bet they would have known each other!"
And chatting about Berlin, about languages, living abroad, chat chat chat... considering how drunken and how late the hour, we're having quite an interesting in-depth discussion. (I'd like to stress I'm not flirting at all here) when suddenly his girlfriend, who is sitting the other side of him on the banquette, talking to other people, says petulantly "Well are we hanging around here? What are we doing?" (She is nice though, I was sharing the microphone with her earlier.) She lays a proprietory hand on his leg, and I realise I've exceeded the time you are meant to talk to someone else's boyfriend.

I wasn't doing anything, just talking. My lord, but it is depressing sometimes.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Rat Girl

It's been a long, long time since I've been blown away by a book. This is the book, though.

I liked Throwing Muses, I liked Kristin Hersh and her voice, but I didn't know that much about them. I started listening to them at college (because of a boy, isn't it always?) And their odd, left-field lyrics strangely & spookily paralleled the disintegration of that relationship - I remember the line "I brought this bottle here for you, can't you drink it?" jumping out of one song, pretty uncanny as it seemed to relate to one specific incident at a terrible house-party near the end. I remember reading interviews with Kristin Hersh which talked about manic depression and how she didn't just write songs, she felt like they were living things taking her over and making her crazy. I was intrigued, but I didn't get it.

Rat Girl is based on her diary from when she was 18. It is absolutely unflinching, unself-pitying. She was knocked down by a hit and run driver and though she'd been a musician before, after the accident she could hear music, hear whole songs and sounds - and not just hear them, but she felt taken over by them, possessed by them, everything else driven out until the song is finished. At first it's a gift, the songs pour out and the band starts to get a following, attracted by this new energy. Then it gets too much

"Music's making me do things, live stories so that I can write them into songs. It pushes my days and my brain around. A parasite that kills its host, it doesn't give a shit about what happens to a little rat girl as long as it gets some song bodies out of it. It's a hungry ghost, desperate for physicality.

I'm not writing songs any more. They're writing

I wish I had some gift, some talent, but she shows so clearly how it could be a terrible curse as well as an incredible gift. She takes you inside that experience of highs and lows, not explaining, just showing.

And because she's so unself-pitying in the way she tells her story, it is desperately moving. She was so young & fully aware she was going through hell. Starting to have visual as well as auditory hallucinations, snakes everywhere, robot killer bees...

"I'm uncertain as to what this world is, where you might see something... pretend? magic? invisible? And so I'm uncertain as to who might live in this world.... not the Muses. Not me- that person is over. I'm not in here anymore.
The only thing left in this body is shame. And the only shred of self-preservation I have left is this thought "Please, no more shame."

So I keep my distance from everyone. Stay cold and they won't feel the heat. I don't go to school. book shows or schedule rehearsals. I don't see anyone except the people I see on the street.

I don't belong on this planet. I'm not good enough."

Monday, 15 November 2010

More twitter


Twitter is where ordinary and famous people meet. I don't really care about famous people much anymore - I like to read biographies of people I admire,* but it's the ordinary people that do the extraordinary stuff, & usually without recognition for it. So when I see famous folk on Twitter, even ones I like, I usually go 'meh...'

Yesterday though I posted (joking) "When I reach 70 followers I will buy everyone a Twix". My old friend Del retweeted it & a few people followed me.

Then it got retweeted by a well-known comedienne & suddenly my Inbox was steadily filling up with emails "You are now being followed by..." 71, 72, 73... 80, 90, over 100. They kept appearing. At first it was funny but then it was slightly scary. Where were all these people coming from? Were they expecting funny? I felt like I was onstage, naked, all of a sudden. It was like watching the power of the famous in action, though. A bit eerie.

Here are my further refined thoughts on Twitter after 8 months - blogs suit me more, they are slower and more friendly & intimate, more like going round someone's house for a cup of tea and a leisurely chat, whilst Twitter is like being in a busy noisy pub and yelling at them to compete for their attention across the table.

* currently reading Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh - highly recommended. Ooh, just noticed, cover is by Gilbert Hernandez too.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


In the week I'm going to a David Lynch themed club night at the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club. What can I wear? What Lynch-inspired character can I go as? (Please don't say Frank. Though it would be easy enough - just carry oxygen mask & assume crazed psychotic stare.)

Friday, 12 November 2010


Lucy Pepper on Twitter "outcomes" has to be the dumbest word ever invented by idiots. ever."

"Outcomes" is one of my bĂȘte noires. What is wrong with the word result? Another pet hate is "success criteria" which they are obsessed with using at school - apparently if you use this sad management-speak jargon in every lesson, it makes the kids 80% cleverer. I catagorically refused to use this phrase in Year 1 (5 and 6 year olds. I ask you.)

Honestly, I think that the Plain English Campaign should have powers to hand out custodial sentences. The educational establishment would get life for crimes against the English language. When I was doing my PGCE I was amazed to find them referring to the Desired Learning Objective (DLO - they love an acronym.) What they meant was the aim of the lesson.

Any jargon in your job that drives you crazy?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Led Zep

Programme on Robert Plant reminded me of our obsession, OBSESSION, with Led Zeppelin as teenagers. That banshee wail. The dodgy lyrics. The long hair. The tight, tight, tight-tight trousers. (When we met our friend's new American husband for the first time, he came over to mine and we inadvertently won him over right away. "You have every Zeppelin album. Every Zeppelin album!" We sat along and air-drummed to Four Sticks and wailed along to Dazed and Confused & bonded for life.)

I'd post a link to a YouTube video but evidently they HATE YouTube. They're the one band I wish I could have seen live. I bet they were magnificent.

One good thing about getting older is that you stop caring about what's hip. I'm unashamed about liking the old rock dinosaurs, I remember now why I liked them in the first place.

Oh Robert. Still would, even now.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Mad fantastical magical genius

Intrigued (and also a bit piqued) by this British artist, Austin Osman Spare, that I'd never ever heard of. Contemporary of Aleister Crowley, drew like Aubrey Beardsley, mad Blake-ian artist type... How can I have never heard of him, or come across him ever? Everybody else has, like Alan Moore on the Culture Show. Had you?

"... Monstrous or fantastic magical and sexual imagery", genius draughtsman, fiercely anti-commercial. Sounds my cup of tea. Anyway he's on at the perfectly named Cuming Museum, anybody want to see it with me?

“I have had a hard life, but I blame nobody but myself. I am responsible for my own misfortunes. I am rather apt to butt at a brick wall at times, and find, in the end, I cannot do any good about it. I cannot change things, so I give it my best.”

Monday, 1 November 2010

Bitten off more than I can chew

So I volunteer sometimes for an anti-poverty group, and I print sometimes at the print studio. Both based in Hackney. At the Anarchist Bookfair I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered Just Seeds collective, who sell their work to fund community projects. Maybe I could get the printmakers to give me some of their work, we could sell it as a fundraiser for the voluntary group, which is constantly broke, the voluntary group gets some much needed cash and the printmakers get a warm glow of benevolence, everybody's happy.

I proposed it and have just had an email back from one of the artists to say she'd donate some work - hurrah! (She's a proper artist whose work is collected by the British Museum and everything.)

But she did mention the word 'auction' in her reply. I was thinking along the lines of a stall down Brick Lane with prints for a tenner, but maybe they wouldn't want to sell off their lovely work cheap on a market stall, plus also if we did have a proper auction it would raise more money.

The only thing is, how do you set up an auction?