Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Demain! Paris!

This time tomorrow I will be the following things:

1. In Paris
2. Not here
3. In Paris

I am nearly completely ready. I have positioned the post-it notes emblazoned with the word "PASSPORT" in key spots around the house, I have charged my iPod and carefully selected my outifts, so I can think of little else that needs to be done.

Tomorrow Alex Sister and I will get the Eurostar at about one in the afternoon, to arrive in Paris just before three. We will make our way to a bar near Sophie's flat (just, I think, at the bottom of the steps of the Montmatre). There we will sit, drink coffee and perhaps some beer, and wait to be joined by our littlest sister. The fun, which will have been building up since arriving at Waterloo and buying treats for the journey, will at that point truly commence. It will steadily increase, leading to an emotional climax on the Sunday night, when Sophie is hosting a party on a boat. The party is themed 'Cabaret Trash' and promises to be exceedingly excellent. At some point after that I assume I will have to come home, but I am choosing not to dwell on that too much.

Dan, Sam, Chris and George are coming over on the ferry on Saturday. They will add to the fun, I can sense it. They are fun people, and everybody knows that fun people are even funner abroad than at home.

So, now I bid you au revoir.

I will bring everyone back a small plastic Eiffel Tower and a tiny French flag.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I wish somebody would come along and snap me the hell out of this good mood. There is all this cloying positivity floating around inside me, preventing me from feeling miserable, and it is most disconcerting. I do not feel at all like myself. Perhaps I am on drugs of some kind without being aware of it, or maybe someone pickpocketed me in a crowded train and slipped off with my drawstring bag of negative thoughts.

I had a marvellous weekend. On Friday Lily came to stay, and we spent the weekend relaxing, chatting and catching up. Drinking some, eating more and formulating grand plans to take over the world via the combined mediums of The Funny and The Beautiful. On Saturday we drove to a nearby town and sat in tea rooms. We chose a little table with a dainty tablecloth and a view of the cathedral and relished our delicious cream teas. As our conversation meandered this way and that, we began to discuss women we admired and those we loathed. It took me ages to think of someone I loathe, before finally deciding upon the Wicked Stepmother from Snow White. My reason for this choice is that she is the ultimate woman who hates other women. I quite like the evil women in stories most of the time, they are often powerful and somehow visionary, but the Wicked Stepmother only wants to kill Snow White because she herself is no longer pretty and young. Which is just silly behaviour and petty to the extreme. I have met a fair few women like that, they are instantly recognisable by their mean scowls and vindicitive expressions. Everyone must have come across a woman like that, and I think they should all be stopped.
As for a woman I admire, I chose Lily. Some might argue that I was just craftily trying to get her to pay for the cream tea, but I emphatically deny that. I admire her for her creativity and passion as an artist, and her warmth and wonderfulness as a friend. She is also funny, and hilarity that borders on sickness will always get a big thumbs up from me.

After I had single-handedly boosted her ego to the max and she had single-handedly not paid for my cream tea, we wandered along home and watched films whilst eating 'tapas' (meaning we got everything out of the fridge, put it on little plates and then ate it). I told her all about the projects I am getting immersed in, about my grand plans and wacky schemes, and she listened carefully before telling me I was fantastic and probably a genius.

On Sunday, after Lily had left to go back home to Up North, I went into London to the studio. We worked on Sunday evening and then got up and worked all day today. It is past one in the morning and I have just arrived back, exhausted but so excited with what we made. A new track, mixed, mastered and ready to go. It will be spun past many people from Radio 1 and Radio 2, loads of DJs and people who know stuff. I have been assured it will almost certainly get at least some airplay on one of those stations, although experience teaches me that nothing can be counted on until it actually happens.
This doesn't mean I won't allow myself to get excited about the potential of things, as that would be a really fucking boring way to live life, it just means I'll allow for the possibility of disappointment. I have been disappointed by many, many things (and people) before and got through it so I am absolutely sure I can do it again.

So it is Tuesday. Nearly two in the morning and my head is whirring with possibility. I am going to Paris on Thursday, and by this time tomorrow I will have already heard feedback on my new track. I have a hundred million things to get done before I get on the train to France, including more music stuff tomorrow evening. I feel in control, I have lost my sense of feeling squashed by fears and worries. I feel excited and happy, and I love it.

(Maybe you are reading this wishing I would not be so damned chipper. If this is the case I cordially invite you to review some of the archives, in which you will find more than a fair number of "oh fucking shitting hell I feel like shit" posts, if that's what you're after.)

Now I am going to force myself to get some sleep so that tomorrow I can continue to work towards my dream of spending every day for the rest of my life feeling as fulfilled as I have done in the last three.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


The temping agency did not, as it turned out, get me any work this week. I sat there all day on Monday, becoming steadily crosser and more stampy, but to no avail. On Tuesday I hung around again, but forced myself to assume that nothing would happen so was not too disappointed when I was right. I did other things and Kept Busy, and then went to the studio in Muswell Hill for a recording session until midnight. On Wednesday I had a rehearsal at a very, very fancy penthouse flat near Gloucester Road tube, for which I attired myself with attempted glamour but still managed to look considerably less cool than everyone else there. Who, of course, looked like they hadn't tried in the least.

This weekend I have a ladyfriend coming to stay: Miss Lily Dumont, star of burlesque stages around the country! We have decided that we are going to write some kind of comedy together. When we hang out together we don't stop laughing, so we reasoned that it is only fair that we share the love with the rest of the world. Bring light and sunshine to this dreary world by means of a few dirty jokes and some tasteful nudity. We reckon that the actual writing process will take us about half an hour (give or take), which will leave the rest of the weekend to drink tea and look at porn. Hurray!

Next Thursday I will be making my way down to Waterloo Station to board the swooshy Eurostar, which will swoosh me swishily over to Paris. As I arrive at the Gare du Nord I shall run into the open arms of my Impish Little Sister Sophie, who will be wearing a striped t-shirt, a beret and a string of garlic around her neck. I, in turn, will be sporting a shaved head, sunburn and a Man U t-shirt, and possibly clutching a can of warm Stella Artois. We will walk delightedly around Paris for a bit, and then I will go and look at her new flat, we will do Parisian things and try not to talk about boys. We will soon be joined by Alex Sister, and then by numerous boys, none of whom are my sisters, but all of whom I like enormously. I am looking forward to it all immensely. There is a David Lynch exhibition in Paris as well, which I am hoping to be able to get to, but only if we can fit it into our busy schedule of sitting around in cafés drinking espresso and absthine and gesticulating wildly. Last time I went to visit Sophie in Paris I was suffering from some kind of post-traumatic horridness after having been held hostage in that flat in Hackney (ah, good times) so I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as I could have done. This time, though, I am happy and carefree. My hair could do with a cut and my fingernails are an unsightly shade of pink, but apart from that my life is moving steadily towards the nice, so I am ready to embrace even the French.

Today I have to continue my search for Money (I am starting down the back of the sofa cushions). Also I have some singing stuff I need to work on, and I have to prepare the paper, pencils and porn for Lily's arrival tomorrow. I was considering going swimming, but it really is very cold and I hear that swimming gets you all wet* so I might change my mind about that.

*I wonder what sort of Google hits this post will generate? Some good ones, I suspect.

Now I shall go and make myself some coffee and practise my Parisian-style nonchalant shrug in preparation for next weekend.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lessons in Temping

It is Monday morning and I am supposed to be at work. My temping agency called on Friday to say that they had some work for me at a local town council starting today. Despite having been given no details I agreed to it, because I am currently experiencing a whole new world of financial horrors. Trying not to think too hard about the fact that a whole week of this sort of work will earn me the same amount as I can earn singing for three hours, I told them I would be ready to go on Monday morning, awaiting a phone call with instructions.

This morning I carefully selected the very few items in my wardrobe which are at all suitable for an office. A knee-length skirt I have had for six years, with a broken zip which means I have to pull it on over my head, a neat black top (not too low-cut), and a pair of my mother's sensible shoes. With my hair tied up and subtle make-up, I studied myself, concluding that I could probably blend in with the nine-to-fivers, and nobody would know I was just a work-shy 'musician'. In my bag I have a hastily-packed lunch of sorts, which comprises of some rice-cakes, two apples and some walnuts. It was all I could find. Also there is a plastic bag containing some loose green tea leaves, which I must admit look rather suspect. I am all ready to launch myself into the hectic world of the town council.

As much as I intensely dislike office work, I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to actually earn some money for a few weeks. Having not heard from the agency by nine fifteen, I called them. I was told to wait for them to get back to me, which I still am doing. I am still waiting, hoping that there is actually some work for me, that I will actually be earning some money this week.

On Saturday I had my second piano lesson. My teacher says he will give me gold stars if I continue to do so well, and that, to be honest, is all the incentive I need. I can't wait to be able to translate the songs I hear in my head into piano parts. At the moment when I write a song I record the main vocal onto my computer and then put other vocal lines around it to denote where I want the accompaniment to go. It works, but it is arduous and doesn't make the parts accessible to other musicians. By learning the piano I am giving myself autonomy as a songwriter and I am also improving my music theory so I can work more easily with other people as well as write better songs. Also it means I will be able to entertain myself by playing showtunes and singing along enthusiastically, so between that and the promise of shiny gold stars I am feeling very enthusiastic.

This week I have a rehearsal for a band I had a first audition with last week, and who are brilliant. The two other members are friendly and down-to-earth, whilst also managing to be super-glamourous and desperately fashionable. We met and had coffee in Soho on Friday early evening, before going off down an alley to sing some songs. I sang for them, and then they taught me a quick three part harmony vocal. I listened to my part three times and then we launched straight into it, with the guy taking the bass part and the girl the top, and me in the middle (not like that, you pervert). It went well, and they seemed to be keen for me to be involved, but we need to see how the rehearsal on Wednesday goes. I am excited about it, it is a really performative project which already has a profile but which needs another girl who can take an active part in the creation of songs as well as be a third voice.

After that on Friday I went to the Jazz Café in Camden, where a friend of mine was drumming for Kid Creole and the Coconuts. He got me in (free, I hasten to add: thirty-five pounds entry is a little beyond my reach) and I had an amazing time. The band were fantastic, with a brass section, percussion, drums, bass and guitar, three backing vocalists/dancers and, of course, Kid himself, who has an incredible amount of stage presence and charisma. That added to the dancing of the girls in the little outfits made the whole gig really high-energy and loads of fun. I was there on my own, but within about five minutes two guys had started to chat to me and I no longer had to stand by myself. Time slipped by so quickly, and before I knew it I was getting in a taxi to get on the last train home. Feet aching and ears buzzing I fell into bed at about three, setting my alarm to be up for my piano lesson in the morning.

Saturday eveing was Dan's birthday party in Camden, which was huge amounts of fun. The dancing migrated from one bar to the next, and then to Dan's living room at about four in the morning in a shoes-off, mixture-between-drunkenness-and-exhaustion-based frenzy.

Today I am reflecting on last week and contemplating this coming one, in which I have a rehearsal and maybe some work. Also maybe a date, depending on whether I can work up the courage to send a tiny little text message. Only coffee, probably. Maybe some cake.

It is past eleven now and I have called the agency twice, so I will call them again in about ten minutes. If not I shall probably sit here all day, wearing these unfamiliar clothes and watching the phone. Perhaps I will give up and change, and go out running, then try to get some singing work. Maybe busk in the back garden whilst being eyed suspiciously by the dog.

What a strange Monday mornng.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Short On Money But Long On Time

I have been mysteriously silent for a few days now. Now, you might think that I have being elusive and enigmatic, deliberately staying away from the all-seeing glare of Blogger in order to preserve some thrilling secret I was waiting to share at just the right moment. How I wish that were the case. The truth is, though, that the other day I sat down at my computer, opened Blogger and went to type in my password only to find that suddenly I couldn't remember it. There I sat, fingers hovering over the keyboard, face screwed up in confusion and considerable consternation. I cannot believe, I thought to myself, that I drank away that one brain cell that apparently held my blogger password. I knew that last sambuca shot was a bad idea.

That was about four days ago.

Today, in a flash, I remembered it. Annoyingly my impulse was not to throw my arms above my head and shout "Eureka!", but instead to look at the wall abstractedly and murmur "oh, yeah" before taking a sip of tea.

So here I am, back again. I have a feeling I should probably write my password down somewhere, but I know I won't, and even if I did I would promptly forget where I had written it, so the whole exercise would be utterly pointless.

There has been a lot going on recently. I am still calm and relaxed as I was in my last post, although it did take me a while to recover from the fact that a man I had danced with in Bar Soho had found and commented on my blog. That is what happens if you write under your own name, I suppose, and actually I didn't mind at all. Secretly I quite liked it.

The sun is shining a lot. The five day London forecast promises lots more sun. There are daffoldils in places, and little white bits all over the trees. I took my parents' dog (Paddie) for a walk around the other day and we both sang the whole way. Well, it was mainly me, Paddie just joined in for the rousing choruses and dancy bits.

I have been in and out of the studio, meeting musicians, writing songs. There has been talk of a production of The Rocky Horror Show, with which I shall definitely get involved. I am going to Paris soon, with my friends (Chris, George, Dan and Sam) and both my sisters (Alex and Impish Sophie), and sorting out going to Portugal surfing in June/July with other friends.

Also I have started piano lessons! I cannot play the piano, although I can pick out tunes and some chords (sometimes), but I plan to become excellent, possibly of maestro standard, before too long. I am already coming on in leaps and bounds, as my mastery of the C major scale suggests. The man, my teacher, is very nice, and after the first lesson I am already playing Bingo Was His Name with both hands. Quite impressive, I think you'll agree.

I am off now to have coffee with a musician chap. It is still sunny, and I can hear a bird doing something feathery outside the window. Things seem to be looking up.

Monday, March 05, 2007


Yesterday I lay on the sofa all day. Occasionally talking to the dog, but mainly watching television and drinking tea. I rounded the night off by watching When Harry Met Sally and taking myself off to bed, satisfied that I had spent the day in the pursuit of quality relaxation. I had been supposed to be in the studio today, so I felt rather angelic going to bed at the (for me) relatively early hour of one o'clock. It has transpired today that my session has been re-scheduled, but nevertheless I can feel the benefits of my day of recuperation.

I feel like last week was one long exhalation. For some reason I had been becoming increasingly stressed over the previous few months. The experiences I had with my ex-producer had filled me with self-doubt, stripped me of belief in my own abilities to the extent that whenever I was left alone in my own company I would start panicking. That sick, cold feeling in my stomach would return whenever I contemplated my future. A shivery, nauseous wave would wash over me and I would immediately start searching for ways to make it go away, and quickly.

Last week it lifted. Almost as if I had an epiphany, was suddenly infused with the knowledge that I could have control over my own existence. That I didn't have to wait upon the whims of other people or try to only ever do right by them. I know this all sounds trite and clichéd. All at once I was empowered! I have found myself! Words won't bring me down!

It isn't quite like that. It's more like I have just let myself exhale a bit, and it feels somehow calming.

On Thursday I had a great day in the studio in Muswell Hill. We worked very hard, and it felt amazing to walk out of there at six and know that we had created something where once there was nothing. I got into it so much by the end, and felt completely unselfconscious. As I was recording, the producer danced energetically and waved his arms in the air to inspire me to let go of my inhibitions, which was brilliant. We recorded all the lead and backing vocals over the track we'd made, and, although they will probably be recorded again at a later date, we began to see how the whole song was taking shape.

As I walked to the bus stop the sun was on the verge of fading, but my smile wasn't going anywhere. I cannot explain the feeling, because I would have to resort to even more clichés, but there is nothing like it. I suppose the closest thing I can equate it with is being in love with someone who loves you back, having light shining from your eyes in elation and slight disbelief.

From there I caught a tube to central London to meet some of my girlfriends for a meal. Anna had just got a new job so we were celebrating in a Greek restaurant off Charlotte Street. The five of us sat around, drinking wine and catching up. Alternately congratulating and commiserating, talking, laughing and gently flirting with the waiters. A few hours later, Anna called a friend of hers who runs a night at the China White club. China White is not the sort of place in which I would usually choose to hang out, because I do not sleep every night in big piles of fifty pound notes and cocaine. Anna had a word with her friend, though, and it transpired that if we left that moment we would get free guest list entry. In a flash the bill was paid and a taxi ordered. With the words "free entry" still echoing in our ears, we pulled up to the entrance. In we strolled, and, after checking in our jackets, Anna went off to find her friend. Roz and I stood close together in order to deflect the lecherous chat-up lines of the rich city bankers who expect to be able to buy a woman with a few massively overpriced double vodkas. A few moments later we were sitting in the VIP section with an array of drinks on the table in front of us, courtesy of Anna's friend. Who, as it turned out, had taken a bit of a fancy to me. "He's minted!" Anna whispered to me. "And he really fancies you! Also he's really nice" she added, almost as an afterthought. He came over and sat down next to me, picking up the bottle of vodka and refilling my glass, smiling at me. "I'm trying to get you drunk" he said. There is only so drunk a person can get, I thought, as I smiled awkwardly at him and took a sip.

As I engaged in unenthusiastic conversation with the friend, I felt Roz touch my arm. "Are you alright?" she asked. "Yeah, fine." I whispered to her. "I don't fancy him, but I feel compelled to talk to him because he bought us our drinks." As I was still reeling is disbelief at the words that had just come out of my mouth, she shifted our seating so she was in between me and the friend with her back to him. "Thanks" I said, meaning it. She shook her head. "I am not going to have you pimped out for a few drinks." Quite right, I thought, gratefully.

A bit later on I found myself next to the friend again. He slid his hand around my waist. "Let me take you out for dinner. Anywhere you like." I moved away. "Thanks, but no." He clasped his hand to his forehead in mock dismay. "Come on! I'll buy you anything you want! Anything!" He squeezed me again. "What do you want?"

There are many things I would like to be bought. I would like some new shoes. A new camera. I have a magical pony so I do not need one of those, but I wouldn't mind some magical stables for her to live in and maybe some magical pony straw for her to eat. Despite all of this I was completely horrifed by the idea that some man thought that he could get someone to go out with him with the promise of expensive treats. It didn't even feel threatening, just utterly ridiculous. I think I laughed at him and moved away. Anna texted me the next day saying that her friend had called her twice trying to get my number. Safe to say I did not give her permission to pass it on.

The rest of the week and the weekend were also eventful in different ways. Less pimping, as a general rule.

Today feels like the start of something, although I am not sure what. More performance opportunities have presented themselves, and I am back in the studio perhaps tomorrow, perhaps on Wednesday.

Until then I will hold onto this calm determination so it does not slip through my fingers and plunge me back into panic.