Thursday, 26 February 2009

Hello Hubmarine #2

This Saturday is the second of the nights previously known as rhythm and blue/TTO, or TNPKARABT for short. Hello Hub is a bit easier to say, though.

At this one, Chris Killen, author of The Bird Room will be reading from said book, and will also be bringing a touch of the Euro Party to the proceedings. As will Socrates Adams-Florou, author of Flesh Feast: The Human Brain, and lover of chicken and pies and The Future. They will be joined by the illustrious Sian Cummins, who will be reading a story she may or may not have found on the walls of a toilet. (Warning! Please don't show her your pants. She got more than an eyeful on her last trip to Derby and we don't want her thinking that's all Derby has to offer.)

Spreading the poetry out and about will be Leicester's Steve Rooney, winner of the Derby Slam, and defender of white van drivers. He's very bloody entertaining. And we have a penultimate farewell from Michael Frearson, who's off in a few weeks to walk up mountains and wear more silly hats and find the secrets of the universe.

There will also be some short films (we might even have an actual screen this time instead of a curtain, who knows?), and some music.

It all kicks off at 8pm at The Big Blue Coffee Co., on Sadlergate in Derby. They serve booze as well as coffee, and there are always lots of cakes to choose from. What more could you ask for from a FREE literature night?

Come on down!

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Just In Case

Our boiler has been broken for over a week. The heating part is fine, but if we try and get hot water, it runs for 30 seconds and then turns icy cold. And that's that. It usually happens when I'm in the shower, which fills me with a great fury that takes a good few hours to wear off. The plumber the agency sent is an idiot. He's been out and 'fixed' it twice, and the third time, he left me waiting in all day only to phone at 7pm to tell me he can't come out because it's 7pm. He did, however, instruct me (I'm not an engineer or a plumber, by the way) to turn certain valves under the boiler (there were five, and I was supposed to know which two were the right ones) to restore the pressure temporarily. I was a bit scared about blowing myself up, but fiddled with the various valves anyway, while he talked to me like I was stupid for not being Corgi registered and not knowing the lingo.

He imparted this 'valve fiddling' knowledge to me on Wednesday, and I've used it 2-3 times a day since, as hot water needs have arisen. In the back of my mind, though, there is a niggling fear that the boiler is going to explode some time soon. So this is a 'just in case' post. Just in case this blog goes quiet and you happen to hear that there was a boiler catastrophe in Derby city centre, I'm putting it out there that it's all Stu the Plumber's fault. Lock him up and throw away the key!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

In The Belly Of A Bear

In a little while, I’m going to a studio to read a part of a story. A band wanted some spoken word for one of their songs, and the Mr offered my services. I’m just excited about being in the vocal booth. It’s lined with brown fake-fur, and feels like the inside of a big bear. I will pretend I’m Jonah in the whale, or better still, Red Riding Hood inside the wolf. I only have to read for sixty seconds. I started writing something new, but then my head kept going back to something I’d already written that would really fit it. So I picked out the relevant piece, changed it a bit, and I’ve been practicing reading it over the music all afternoon.

I hope I get to have big earphones like in Band Aid. I’m not panicking that much because they’ll be putting lots of distortion on my voice, so it won’t sound like me. That said, I’ve tried to get out of it twice today. So maybe I’m panicking a bit.

In theory, I should be less afraid than when I’m reading in front of people, but I think the fact that I’m doing this for someone else, and they are paying good English pounds for the recording is upping the fear. They might hate it. Which will actually be fine by me. But I’ll still feel bad for them. They might hate it but not feel like they can say so. That would be much worse.

A few years back, I was in a band, a terrible band. We only had one song, and the rest of our set - yes, we actually did this in front of people - comprised of a loose kind of...well, I’d call it “jamming” but that would be a lie. I was meant to be the singer, but I’d long since given up trying to write any lyrics because what was a “song” one day was a completely different “song” the next. It ended up with me just reading bits of stories over whatever noise was going on in the background. So, at this point, shortly before quitting, we were playing gigs and I’d just ad lib and hope for the best, cringing inside. A probably worse fact is that some people actually liked us. I remain shocked by this, and can only assume that either they were being very kind and fibbing, or that they were pretentious knobs who thought we were “arty”. We were so not “arty”. So my pep talk to myself here is, if I could do that, then reading a specific piece over a certain part of a song (2 mins 35 seconds in, to 3 mins 40 seconds in), played by a proper band should be a cakewalk. I like the word cakewalk. I’ve just rediscovered it. I’m going to use it more often.

Part Two

Well, I just did it! It was over before I’d realised. They liked the first take. So now I’m back home, with another experience under my belt. My own voice sounds WEIRD to me. But I think everyone feels that. The vocal booth was very nice. Cosy. Furry. It’d be a good place to have a nap. I’ll get to have a proper listen to the entire song later on tonight. They’re mixing it now. If I don’t hate my input too much, then I might even post a link to it at a future date. That is, if they don’t decide they hate my input and erase me after all.

You can have a listen to the song here. It's the one called 'Lunacy By Sea Wind'. I really like it, and can even listen to it without covering my mouth because I don't think it sounds like me, even though it does.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

I *heart* the Afghan Whigs, and childhood songs with "boom" in them

One of my jobs at the library is to check all the DVDs that have been reported faulty. Which basically means I have to watch random parts of films that I wouldn't normally choose to watch. The worst thing is when someone says it messes up at the end, because then I have to watch the ending, and if it's something that I might have wanted to see, then it's ruined.

I was busy at my task the other day, and I had to check The Aristocats, which yes, I saw as a child a long long time ago. When the lawyer, George, makes his entrance, he sings a song that goes "Tararaboomdieee", and the second I heard it, I had a really vivid memory of me and my sister singing it for quite a hefty chunk of our childhood. I'd forgotten about it, and didn't realise that's where it actually came from. It just made me think about all the crazy tunes we keep in our heads, locked away and forgotten, and how just hearing it again brought back memories I'd lost.

I've written before about how certain songs can evoke different periods of your life, and how we imbue songs with our own meanings and let them become part of us.

I have a short piece about one such song over at Laura Hird, where issue 20 is up and ready to read.