Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Tale in Three Parts For No Reason

Friday 13th May

I am in the B&B again, although I have definitely left at at some point since the last post. I am in our bedroom this time, drinking my seventy-fifth cup of tea of the day.

I was about to have a shower but the hot water has run out. I stood crossly in the shower with my hand slowly numbing itself under the icy spray as I went from patient to impatient at breakneck speed. Ben popped out to find the owner, who told us that yes, he had just done some washing so it might be twenty minutes or so before the hot water trickled its weary way back to room 4, before darkly adding that most of the guests "have had their showers by now". We didn't go down for breakfast because we were tired from rehearsing all week and Ben was up until 2am making adjustments to the script, so the chance of a lie-in the day before the show was eagerly grabbed. This course of action, however, seemed not to sit too well with John, who I suspect prefers the sort of guest who doesn't take such scandalous liberties. Over the next two days I fully expect him to dock our pocket money and tell us off for treating the place like a hotel.

Anyway. Rehearsals have been going well, apart from briefly yesterday when a hornet the size of my arm starting swooping around the room like some kind of angry, buzzing pterodactyl. I hyperventilated with fear behind a pillar that I hadn't seen before but which turned out to be very useful for cowering behind while Dan coaxed it out with a school exercise book. I nearly died. Later on a robin came in. The robin was considerably less frightening but I still kind of didn't want it near me. I think I might be frightened of all living things, which bodes excellently for when Ben and I do falconry in a few weeks (my present to him for his 30th birthday).

Band name-wise, well. Some excellent suggestions in the comments from the last post, so thank you.

However, there is nothing quite like a name with a story behind it, so here goes.
On Sunday the four of us went out to get some dinner. Afterwards Cheryl decided to turn in so she could be bright-eyed for the passive-aggression and toast which is served every morning here at 8am sharp. Dan, Ben and I decided to have a night cap at the local pub, which is called The Albert (after Einstein - one of its ales is called Realaleativity) and is wonderful, with its own micro-brewery and sense of whimsical country charm. We procured drinks and sat down at a wooden table near the bar, then took up our usual game of "Band Name?".

Tuesday 17th May

It is now Tuesday and I am sitting in a café because being in the flat was doing my head in. I am having proper post-show come down time, which Manchester's grey unpleasant prospect is doing nothing to assuage. Anyway, I should finish the story, but please be prepared for it to have a distinctly gloomier tone from here on.
We were in the Albert, for an after-dinner "one drink". I was vaguely aware that a couple had entered the pub and were talking to the regulars at the bar. The woman's voice was loud and emphatic. "She was-sh the besht cat. Such a beey-eautiful... such... the besht cat". The words wafted over to where we were sitting and I felt a twinge of empathy, recalling our recent sad little loss. I tuned back in to our band name conversation. Something good, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but that kind of sounds good and works in an ineffable, excellent way. Preferably with some kind of story behind it.

We suddenly became aware that, over at the bar, a coincidence was taking place. The were also talking about band names, and of one in particular. Drunk woman disapproved of the name, which she roundly said was rubbish, an opinion with which I roundly agreed. Apparently the band in question was a good band, but with a terrible name. Ben, Dan and I all looked at each other with silent, high-eyebrowed, "what-a-coincidence" expressions.

We began talking about band names we liked. Either Dan or Ben mentioned the band Daisy Chainsaw, and how brilliant a name that is. Yes, the other two of us agreed, Daisy Chainsaw is an excellent name. Shame it's taken, really.

Suddenly, from across the pub, we heard the words "who'sh talking 'bout Daishy Chainshaw?". We looked up and the drunk woman was lurching towards us. She had blonde hair and a thick jumper, and her mascara was smeared underneath her bloodshot eyes. "Hey" she said as she weaved through the empty pub. "You were talkin' 'bout Daishy Chainshaw! How do you know Daishy Chainshaw?" Someone explained that we were talking about band names.

Wednesday 18th May
I am yet another café. I am one of those people in who sit in cafés crashing self-importantly on a laptop while all decent people are at work. I just had a meeting. I am in better mood today owing to an excellently exciting devising meeting last night.

Band names, we repeated, to the drunk woman's blank expression. We were saying how Daisy Chainsaw is a great band name.

Another blank, mascara-smeared look.

"How do you know Daishy Chainshaw? I know them. D'yous know Vinch? Ch'drummer."

No, one of us explained. We don't actually know the band, we were just talking about them. We don't know who Vince is. We just like the name.

Another one of us piped up to tell drunk woman that we are a band looking for a name, so we were talking about names we liked, and we think the name Daisy Chainsaw is really brilli...


No, we don't know Vince.

At this moment or another moment very similar to this one, drunk woman budged Dan along and sat down next to him. We all silently and inwardly groaned as she leaned forward with an expression of confusion and sambuca clambering across her face.

"Why" she began in a whisper "were you's talking 'bout Daishy Chainshaw?"

I will spare you the agony of having to read the exact conversation and myself the tedium of having to write it all down. But, to summarize, she knew the band a bit because she went to Australia and met someone who had just broken up with his girlfriend and nobody was looking for a relationship and then someone else (possibly her) went to Canada and then Green Day came round and then she went out with Vince or was it Frank then she met Daisy Chainsaw before they didn't go on tour with Nirvana.

"And that" she finished, with a dismissive wave in the direction of the bar "is how I met George."

We nodded.

"Wait. What was I saying?"

We nodded again, hopefully.

By this this time, against all the odds, she seemed to have sobered up a bit. She called over to George to get her another drink.

"My cat died today, that's why I'm this drunk. I don't usually drink in here" she whispered conspiratorially "the wine's horrible." Then, "oops" as her glance drifted down to my glass of red. I told her I didn't mind it, that we usually drink the two-bottles-for-a-fiver wine from the shop down the road and quite enjoy it, but she had stopped listening by then.

"Anyway, what are you all doing here?"

We explained again about the whole band/show/name thing, and she nodded sagely.
"I've always wanted to do that sort of thing." Another vague wave. "But I'm not actually sure I am talented. Last Christmas George asked me what I wanted, I said a piano. So that's what I got."

Dan began to say how that seemed like a good thing, to get a piano, but she shook her head.

"Trouble is, I've never played it. Not once." She shook her head again. "Think how much Botox that could have paid for."

We collectively did not know what to say.

"I did write into The Word magazine once" she continued, undaunted. "But they didn't write back. Just sent me my own letter back to me! Bastards! Although I suppose my letter was more of a complaint that said I should be there instead, so I'm not that surprised. Anyway, I always had a band name that I liked that I thought I would use if I ever had a band."

(At this point George brought over a round of drinks that included a shot of sambuca each. There was a brief conversation about hats as both Dan and Ben were wearing them, which prompted the barman to leap about in various different comedy hats. At one point I requested a contemporary dance, which he duly performed.)

"What" continued the drunk woman, whose name we had now discovered, was Charlotte, "wash I shaying?"

We reminded her.

"Geddes Loom. That's what I would call my band. I think it's from Citizen Kane. Have you seen it."

"I have" replied Ben.

"What?" said Charlotte.

"Seen it."

"Seen what?"

"Citizen Kane."

"Oh. Why?"

"Because of Geddes Loom."

"That's my band name!"

As it turns out, there is a character in Citizen Kane called someone Geddes, but as far as we know he doesn't have a loom or indeed any particular weaving experience or training.

To cut an already very long and boring story down to mere epic length, we decided to name the band Geddes Loom. Because of Charlotte. Because she was excellent and funny and weird and totally loved Dan's bald head and said I was really pretty (although later on I overheard her saying to Dan "she's pretty isn't she? I'm mean, at first, you're like, no, but then after a while, you think: yes". Hey, that's me, I'm a grower.) Because we were in a pub telling each other that we wanted a name with a story behind it and then, out of nowhere, a story started. A story started in the place where all the best stories start, in the pub, an hour before closing.

So, we are Geddes Loom. Thank you, Charlotte.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Headliners: Front Room Yurt

I am in a lovely B&B in Totnes. I am currently in the Lounge, trying to keep to a corner of the neat, cream-coloured sofa and occasionally having a little panic about spilling something dreadful on it even though I am not eating or drinking anything I could spill. There is nobody else in here, but I feel a bit scruffy somehow, like I shouldn't be allowed up here on the couch. (I am trying not to consider what implications it has for my self-esteem that I don't feel like I should be allowed on the furniture, like some grubby, freckle-nosed hound.)

Totnes is LOVELY. Full of hippies, of course (the noise pollution from all the little bells attached to people's clothing is quite distracting), but totally delightful. Last week we were in a self-catered apartment overlooking a river and a beer garden, and this week we are in a delicious B&B. Ben is upstairs writing furiously, Dan is relaxing like only a musician knows how*, and Cheryl is out wandering the sun-soaked streets. I am meant to be lyric-writing, and I have been but I was distracted by a woman barking at a dog and have now lost concentration.

*This is totally unfair. Dan is a very hardworking, talented person.

Over the past week Dan, Ben and I have been in the lovely space at Dartington Hall. Dan and I have been writing music, which has been absolutely brilliant. It was weird getting there and all the equipment and engineers and stuff, just there, all for us. Of course I pretended to be super cool about the whole thing, like I am used to trotting off to the Albert Hall every other weekend to do a self-penned opera alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, although I probably did say "wow" and/or "cool" one or two more times than was necessary. I'm not sure how the final piece is going to look yet, but this time next week it will have been done. Eek.

In the times when we've not been working on stuff for the piece, Dan, Ben and I have been working on material for our band. (We are now a band.) Ben on beatbox, me on vocals/cello and Dan on guitar/piano/technology. (Dan is Good At Technology.) We're currently trying to think of a band name, but we can't think of any, except joke ones. Everything we look at sounds like a band name now, and it has become pretty dire because now all conversations are punctuated with the words "band name?". Like this: "Hey, look at that sheep!" "Band name?" or "Do you know where the toilets are?" "Band name?". It's getting very annoying and we are no closer to alighting on something charming, original and unpretentious. Excellent suggestions are welcome.

Last night we were in a B&B above a very noisy pub, before we moved into this lovely one today. It was a last minute booking for various thrilling admin-related reasons, and Ben had made an agreement with the landlord that we would pay him when the money clears tomorrow, which was fine. As we were leaving this morning the landlord and several of his meaty chums were gathered around the bar. We called our thank yous, and Ben mentioned that he would be in tomorrow to settle up. The landlord nodded and then grinned lasciviously. Jabbing a raw sausage finger at me he leered "you could leave her as collateral". His buddies guffawed with delight and Ben and I stared at him in mute horror. I then mumbled something about not being a very hard worker, hahaha, you wouldn't want me, then we made a swift exit and Dan, Ben and I trundled up the hill to this lovely place. When we got here the marvellous owner, John, welcomed us warmly, showed us to our rooms and left us to it after a quick reminder to make sure the front door is always shut properly. We nodded, thinking of thieves and rogues. "Thing is" continued John, "Totnes is full of strange types. We're on a ley line crossing here, so if you're not careful about security you can come back to find a yurt in your front room."

I think I like it here. Front Room Yurt. Band name?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Too Long To Proof Read, Sorry

Right, so, I went to Australia, then came back, now I am in Devon, which is like Australia in many ways (climate, kangaroo population, shrimps, barbies, etc).

We did attempt to get upgraded on the plane by brushing our hair before going to the airport and then telling them about my prolapsed disc and trapped hip nerve, but the conversation didn't quite go as planned. In my head I imagined myself swanning elegantly up to the desk and exchanging a few pleasantries with the airline person behind it. If it was a straight woman I would compliment her hair and ask her where she got her teeth done (or something) then show her Ben's pretty eyes, if it was a straight man/gay woman I would flirt gently but harmlessly, if it was a gay man I would (GENERALIZATION ALERT) sing a show tune. After a small amount of delicate bonding the conversation would no doubt turn to my health, at which point I would modestly but sadly mention my crippling agony, downplaying it enough to seem brave but not so much that it actually seemed somewhere in the region of a moderately stubbed toe. At this point I would gaze wistfully into the distance for a bit while Ben would explain in a whisper that I was possibly the most courageous person he had ever met. The airline person by this point would be wiping the tears from their cheeks, marvelling at this lionhearted (but ravishing) vision before them. After a quick tiptap on the keyboard, she/he would, with hands quivering with emotion, hand over our boarding passes, with the words FIRST CLASS emblazoned across the top.

As it happened, I managed to say "um, excuse me, but I have got a really sore back" before we were turfed into Economy with the rest of the blithering plebs.

Apart from the flights (which were actually better than expected, apart from the cold, barely-restrained fury of the stewardesses at every request. As I said to Ben, I just wanted to write "I'm sorry" on my face to save having to say it every time I requested some extra gin) it was a fantastic trip.

We went round Tasmania! After Laura and Rob's lovely wedding we did a road trip, which was brilliant. Tassie is apparently the butt of many jokes down there in the under, but we thought it beautiful. Lush and gorgeous with beaches that laughed in the face of our camera ("do not think you can capture my splendour with that thing, fools"). I cannot possibly summarize it properly, so I will do it like this:


It was fantastic, as you can tell from my lyrical and expressive turn of phrase. The one thing I will say is that, if you are ever lucky enough to go to Hobart, I must insist that you visit MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art). Ben and I were there for about four hours and we saw about two thirds of it. Some of the art I saw there made my brain somersault and my heart trip up. Some of it was fucking disgusting, some of it weird, some of it beautiful. I loved it so much. When you go in you get given an 'O' phone, which is basically an iPhone. It locates you and then finds which pieces you are near, so you then click on a piece and it comes up with information about that piece (there are no signs in the whole place). You can then press the 'artwank' symbol, and it will come up with an article or two about that piece, or 'ideas' and it will give you an (often irreverent)fact or idea or 'audio', at which point you plug in your earphones and you can listen to an interview with the artist. But you don't have to do any of this, you can just experience it. There was work by Jenny Saville, Marina Abramovic, Kandinsky, Damien Hirst and just loads and loads of insane and fantastic stuff. God, I loved it. You get on a boat from Hobart there and back, and on the way back I couldn't stop talking, I felt like my little horizons had just been stretched apart with a satisfying creak.

There were loads of other things I loved about the trip but I must stop gushing like a twat. Melbourne is delightful. People kept assuming we must be really excited about the royal stupid wedding and it kept being a bit awkward when we weren't. (I didn't watch it. I think it was a shameful waste of money, and any benefit it has for 'the country' is lessened because we are a country with no libraries, youth services, allotments, etc. At the very least I think every tax payer should be allowed to wear Kate's dress once, seeing as we all paid for it.)

It was my 29th birthday, so I am now considerably more mature and less prone to whimsy (and political, see above). On the way back we didn't get upgraded in much the same manner as we didn't get upgraded on the way there, only this time we weren't upgraded with two stopovers and more screaming children than I have ever seen in one place, and I work in schools. Seriously, I considered putting on a production of Oliver! to warm the frozen, be-lipsticked hearts of the stewardesses.

So we went there, then came back. My back was awful for a bit, but is now better. Ben's sister Laura is a physio and so had the dubious pleasure of watching me bend in various directions saying things like "that hurts slightly more than the other time but not as much as the time on the other side", but she was lovely and gave me lots of pilates things for my rehabilitation process. I am no longer walking like an incontinent crab.

Now we are in Devon. Totnes! We are doing a project which culminates in a performance on the 14th May, so if you are in the area you may attend. I cannot promise free wine or quality (on my part) but I can promise enthusiasm and a degree of love. We bought a cello pick-up, which is basically a thing that attaches to my cello and picks up the sound. We have plugged this in to the loop pedal along with a microphone, and I have barely been able to stop playing with it since, it's bloody incredible. Ben is writing furiously. The other music guy, Dan, is coming down on Wednesday, and the director, Cheryl, is coming on Friday. I have no idea what it's all going to look like, but I do know that my whole way of musicking has just been blown wide open. It's brilliant and terrifying and kind of makes me want to go and sit in a corner and read a book for a bit, just to calm down.

We are in a bar as our accommodation doesn't have wifi. People are beginning to come in and drink heavily, so we must depart and stop bringing the mood down with our relentless tapping and frowny concentration. Also I am starting to find it difficult not to eavesdrop and laugh at the jokes of strangers, which is always a signal to leave.

Happy May Bank Holiday, everyone.