Saturday, 27 December 2008
Perfect 3 days by going to a shitty, busy, noisy, claustrophobic Shoreditch club. Our blissful Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day seem like they never happened. It's good to see people but being in such a setting makes me feel anxious and also I can't hear properly sometimes which adds to my anxiety and unease.
I can't really socialise with people on this level any more and must accept it and do what I feel comfortable doing even if it seems anti-social to other people. Those few who understand me will understand. I'd rather be alone in my comfort zone than put up with this for the sake of having half an incomprehensible paranoid conversation....
Friday, 26 December 2008
After much deliberation, illness and personal demons, I decided to spend Christmas at The George Tavern with Martin and Dario. Not being able to spend it with family for a 3rd year in a row has somewhat dampened my previous excitement for all things Christmas. I thought it would be best to spend this year's celebrations out of sight and out of people's ways...I have to thank the other Birds though for their relentless invites and concern for me over the festive period. I love them.
We arrived to find a Christmas Tavern - the George is a splendid pub full of character on a normal day but on Christmas Day it was purely magical. It felt like we were at the tail end of the last century. Really atmospheric and beautiful.
Now the point of this blog is not to go into details over how much I ate and drank on Christmas Day but it is to shed some praise on some unsung heroes that truly deserive it. Commencing with Pauline Forster...
Pauline has had an amazing inspiring, difficult life. She has battled through extreme poverty, cancer, tragic deaths and much much more. However every year, she opens up her pub on Christmas Day to those who have nowhere to go - local OAPs who live on the nearby estates, young families who can't afford their own Christmas dinner and people like me who had nowhere to really go. The main thing about Pauline is this - whoever she meets she accepts and embraces internally. You can see it in her eyes and in her smile - she welcomes you genuinely and so generously. She really is a star of a person.
After we stuff ourselves with lunch, she comes over to me with a glass in one hand and bottle of red wine in the other. She sits down next to me, smiles and refills my wine glass and pours herself some wine too. She thanks me for coming along before I even manage to thank her for inviting me. At that moment, Harry (an old man in his 80s who is a regular at The George) comes in with Pauline's son Everest who went to collect him to join him the festivities. Pauline then goes on to tell me a bit more about Harry. I remember the first time I met him earlier this year I'd just played a gig and was exhausted and came outside for fresh air. I saw Harry watching us and asked him if he enjoyed the gig. After about a minute's silence he looked at me and then said, '....No what a racket!...Can you buy me a pint?'. I fell in love with him from that moment on.
Harry lives on an estate behind The George. He doesn't say much but he does like his Guinness. I know that from one time when I was standing at the bar and he asked me to buy him one. Which I did. However I had no idea like most of the people I've met at The George, about his past.
Pauline told me that Harry is Harry Diamond. A prominent photographer in the 60s and close friend of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud (see the main picture of them taken by Harry above). He was also one of Freud's muses and Freud has painted many paintings of Harry, most of which are hanging in international art galleries around the world.
Pauline then points out a very elderly lady across the room who is bent over and picking up torn wrapping paper and bits of crackers from the floor. "That is Caroline who is also an artist, she's in her eighties. She has absolutely no income or help from the state or anyone. She lives in a squat on Commercial road. You can offer her the finest and best things from the table but it is in her nature to see what lies beneath it, on the floor." Pauline gives money to Caroline very often and welcomes her to the pub for food and drink whenever she comes by. I was pretty shocked to hear that an OAP lives in a Limehouse squat with local drug addicts.
Pauline has set up a charity called Turangalila to raise funds to acquire a building next to The George where she aims to establish a social, education and health centre for local people. You can read more about it and donate to it here:
If you haven't been already, then please make sure you stop for a pint at The George. It really is a genuine thriving community for artists old and new. Please join us.
Monday, 22 December 2008
Over the last few months, we've been getting quite a lot of press band-wise. 99% of the interviews so far have consisted of these exact questions:
a) How did you come up with your name?
b) How did you all meet?
c) Where was your first gig?
d) (More of a statement than a question) You are all goths.
With those I know and trust and with those I dislike, I am very opinionated and enjoy ranting. As most interviews involve opinions, I'm pretty opinionated in them although lately answering the same questions again and again has become pretty tiresome. Plus we've only been together for a short while so I'm praying that any future press will be a bit more intellectually challenging.
We did an interesting interview the other day with a girl who seems to be a bit of a nu-raver and performs at clubs like Ghetto a lot. The questions mostly revolved around her own experiences which she then directed at us. I quite enjoyed the interview however when it was published, the article omitted the questions to which I really opened up to in my answers. For example, the lyrics to a particular song which were based on a very intimate, traumatic experience. I can't blame the magazine as I understand some answers don't make for light-hearted idle interview banter however it left me feeling a bit cold that even when you do open up, some people don't take what you're saying as being important or decide it doesn't make the best bit for a chunky quote.
I suppose to the quiet observer reading this I may seem like an ungrateful person who doesn't appreciate any of the press we've received. If you think that then you are missing the point. I have always felt that I have no interest in modern journalism, my interest lies only in literature. I also think that all budding journalists should read just one thing on their Journalism course and that is 'The Critic As Artist' by Oscar Wilde. This should be dished out for free internationally at all Journalism courses and believe me if it was, the world would be a much richer place.
For those unfamiliar with the work, Wilde discusses the beauty in works by classical artists but also demonstrates that the critic's role is equally as important as the artists and that the critic's 'art' should be as fine and as creative as the artists.
Perhaps most modern day journalists believe they are the Messiah with a Mac perched on their laps but do they really take their role as passionately and as seriously as Wilde enthuses? From recent experiences, the answer is a definitive no.
This emphasises my fascination with blogs and fanzines as it seems that fortunately the people do still have the power. Yes you did a journalism workshop for half a day in General Studies in the sixth form and tried to interview Blur but their press agent never got back to you so you had to settle for Shed Seven instead but you my friend are probably more passionate about music and a much better writer than anyone who works for an established magazine. You my friend, have the power.
So keep doing what you do so well. Because there are people out there like us, furiously writing and reading as if our lives depended on it.
Sunday, 21 December 2008
I've suffered from insomnia most of my life. When I was at primary school, I used to get terrible migraines and my mum would close the curtains and turn the lights off and put me in bed. I would be alone in my dark bedroom and then the horses would start. I used to hear pounding sounds in my ears - there was an army of horses running in my ears and this would terrify me. I'd try and fall asleep but the noises would get louder. I would lie awake for hours whilst the whole house was quiet and fast asleep.
The only solace for me when I was younger were books and the television. In those good old days, BBC1 would just be teletext after about 12pm and ITV would have nothing on too. The only channels that would still be running were BBC2 and Channel 4. It was here in these childhood insomniac times that my fascination with what some would say 'head fuck' films began.
One of the first extreme violent and disturbing films I watched was 'Butterfly Kiss'. It was on really late at night on BBC2 and I watched it pretty much from the beginning. It is an extremely dark tale about 2 lesbian lovers from Liverpool - one is a wholesome girl whilst the other is a sadistic, depraved killer. I watched it so long ago but a few scenes stick in mind, namely one scene where Amanda Plummer takes off her clothes and she is wearing a chain body suit however the chains are all pierced into her body. That image freaked me out for a long time and the thought of it now still scares me.
You can view the trailer below. I'm trying to track it down on DVD but no luck so far:
Another film I remember watching that made quite an impact was 'The Cement Garden' which is based on Ian McEwan's book. The story is an incestuous tale based around a family of children whose parents have died. I just remember watching it and being shocked and intrigued by everything I saw.
Another film which disturbed me was 'King Girl' which was the story of a girl bully in Leeds and one of the girls she bullied. It was very interesting seeing both sides of the story and more importantly, seeing the factors that made the girl become a bully which in her case, was her extremely troubled home life. I can't find much about this film on the internet at all so no clips unfortunately.
I don't think my parents realised that I was watching these sorts of films at such a young age. Has it affected me greatly and made me into a violent, troubled person? I think not. It did perhaps open my eyes and ears to a lot of things that other people of my age tried to understand years later.
I've decided to keep my own personal blog. The band blog is pretty popular but I think it's best I keep personal thoughts and opinions separate to the band's. Mainly in the sense that people can probably handle my rants about music etc but I don't think the band blog is the most appropriate forum for my more personal thoughts/streams of consciousness. So this is where such thoughts will raise their wicked heads...
I found the above picture on my computer today. It's of a double-sided painting on cardboard which was a present to me from the graffiti artist Adam Neate. I interviewed him 4 years ago for my fanzine and he gave me the painting at the end of the interview. That particular fanzine issue was graffiti themed so I interviewed him, Nicholas Ganz (author of Graffiti World), Stormie, Nick Walker and a few others.
I recently heard about a huge graffiti auction at Bonhams and was shocked to find out that paintings like the above by Adam Neate, now trade hands for over £1000. I left the painting at my family home a few years ago and ransacked the place to try and find it. I think my mum thought it was just one of my doodles on the back of a cereal box and threw it away. It's bloody annoying but at least I have a photograph of the painting. It isn't worth £1000 but at least I can still see the gift someone once gave me.