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A couple of nights after I went to see Follies N came over for dinner, it was a pretty strange time as we'd heard that my friend Z had died suddenly out in Chicago. We saw each other next night too as I took up his spare ticket to see Sparks in Shepherd's Bush- I've now seen them twice, despite not really knowing them at all, but they're fun and accessible, which made up for the pretty shoddy support act in Mr. Goodnite, whose lyrics weren't audible enough and songs weren't punchy enough to sustain his lounge-singer shtick. On the Friday the gig was at Electrowerkz to see King No-One: first up were Airwaves with some pretty solid indie-rock. King No-One have more of a pop-y, electronic sound than I usually go for but, having caught a snatch of them at Tramlines, I'd been quite enjoying their tunes. The lead singer plays up the sexuality which the young crowd were going mad for, I've never seen a band so mobbed when they decamped to the merch stand afterwards, meaning the show had a real buzz to it.

On Saturday I headed up to Oxford to spend the afternoon hanging out with L et al. in a non-Iris Project capacity, it was such a rare joy to just sit around with friends without there being any event or purpose to it. I'd managed to time the visit with Allusondrugs playing upstairs at The Zodiac*, so I walked down to the Cowley Road. There were a few bands on first: The Kaos were fairly standard guitary stuff, Slate Hearts were grungier but not in full health, metallers Rats Eat Rats, however, were full-throttle and awesome. I got the coach back to London afterwards as I had to be up on Sunday to speak at a service at the church where I work: it was actually really nice as I've been there Mon-Fri for pretty much a decade without ever really connecting to its parallel weekend life. N & I met up at Tate Britain afterwards to poke around its permanent collection, which felt enriching even though it had rather more in it that horrified than enchanted us. M's Mum was staying for the weekend so I headed back for a very homely-feeling roast.

I had Aberrant on Monday, was at N's Tuesday, then out at The Monarch to see Gaz Brookfield once again Wednesday night with E and Ketch: he had some usual suspects supporting him, B-Sydes (who didn't really make an impression) and Nick Parker (more lyric driven and good fun); you know what you're getting with a Gaz Brookfield gig, but luckily I'm still loving it. Thursday's gig was Cabbage at ULU: I just caught the end of snarly Proletariat, then was blown away by some totally unexpected, glorious queer rock in the form of Queen Zee and the Sasstones. Cabbage seemed slightly more muted than the last time I'd seen them, it seemed less attended or maybe Scala just corralled people together more, put there was still plenty of energy.

Friday night was our annual sponsored Sleep Out and staff had been asked to come to help it run smoothly this year: there had been some anxiety because we'd opened it up to more sleepers than ever, then they started construction in the middle of Duke of York Square, where it happens, but in the end there was plenty of space and it all went pretty smoothly. I didn't even try to bed down and chatted quite a bit to various night-owls passing through, then after the clear-up headed down to Southampton on a 7.30 train to help R prepare for her 40th Birthday tea party, which was all very pleasant. I came back up to London in the evening and managed to make it out in Kings X for a friend's surprise brithday drinks for a bit before finally heading to bed. Unsurprisingly, I wasn't really up to much on Sunday, although N and I did have a wander round an exhibition at 180 Strand, which seems to be acting as a fancy pop-up gallery while construction goes on all around it. It had some big names (Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Marina Abramovitch) but only a few pieces that I really connected with.

Roleplaying got cancelled on Monday and I spent the evening very grumpily at home, failing to achieve anything, which I suspect was the sleep deprivation still catching up with me, then I was at the Lexington on Tuesday to see October Drift, who I'd caught a couple of times on the festival circuit but actually got into more from listening to their recorded stuff (quite the reverse of my usual pattern of engagement with bands); they were supported by Jennifer (who were about my age, which is pretty rare for an opening-slot upstairs-at-a-pub band!) and 485c, who restored the age balance, although the singer's voice had a Cave/Cohenesque resonance that belied his youthful appearance. On Wednesday N & I were over in Willesden having dinner with my old FNB friends, which was lovely and, having not seen them for about a year, I met up with M again the next night, attending a night called Dear Leonard at T Chances. Like all nights at T Chances, it had a very community feel, occasionally bordering on ropiness, but had an endearing oddness to it: in this case, they opened a night purportedly celebrating the life of Leonard Cohen with a short talk on the Universal Basic Income. After that a female singer performed half a dozen or so of his songs, backed by a band that sounded a little like a school orchestra, interspersed with a narration of his life and readings from his books. There was also a Tango demonstration interlude, for no readily apparent reason.

I worked from home on Friday for the first time, in an effort to get shit done away from the distractions of our increasingly populated office, then headed over to N's in the evening and had a really nice time having food and playing Cards Against Humanity with his housemates. I came back home Saturday daytime then in the evening first went to Camden for an earlyish gig: a showcase of bands by This Feeling, who put on a lot of up-and-coming guitar music. The band I originally bought a ticket for had actually pulled out but it was still a good selection: Blackwaters, who I'd seen a couple of times before, Paves, who I think were new to me but I really liked, Bang Bang Romeo, who I'd seen at Great Escape: the singer has a fantastic voice but her stage manner irritated me a bit and the songs don't quite back it up, and The Shimmer Band who had a real Stone Roses thing going on but were very danceable. After that I headed back over to Dalston to meet up with E and R for a very packed and sweaty Pink Glove, which felt like my first clubbing in ages and we made the most of the opportunity to dance. I didn't get much sleep before needing to be up today as N came round to drive all the debris piled in my not-garden to the tip and after that our friends C&M visited for lunch.

*It's possible it's not actually been known as The Zodiac this century.
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On Monday a couple of weeks ago we had another Book Group and were largely pretty underwhelmed by Noah Hawley's Before the Fall. I went to a goodbye drink on the Tuesday for a friend of N's who is leaving London to train as a vicar: she's been working at St. Martin's so one of the vergers was there and it was interesting to chat about the old place. Wednesday plans were cancelled as N still wasn't feeling great but the week ended strongly with gigs: Yonaka at the Borderline on Thursday, who seem to have suddenly acquired a large and energetic following since their last show (I enjoyed guitary boys Free Money in support too), then on Friday it was Fangclub, whose album I'm loving at the moment, at Thousand Island (the slightly random new name for upstairs at The Garage); they were supported by Misfires, some youngsters from Swindon, and also said they'd clocked me at their gigs before when I bought some merch.

Saturday daytime was domestic then I got the train down to Southampton as Jonny was going out for his 40th, the first of my school friends who'd actually said they were marking it: it was just a few of us watching an AC/DC tribute band (Dirty DC), which was frankly a pretty odd experience, and weirdly expensive for what it was, but I'm glad I went down and the guy I went to my first ever gig with had come out as well; we went for a drink afterwards but soon decided that was quite enough for our advanced age. I stayed at Jonny's but slipped out early and got the train back to London for two successive meet-ups with two, overlapping groups of N's friends, brunch in Angel then a pub (and more food, in my case) near Spitalfields; they're a lovely bunch but my early start eventually caught up with me and I didn't last the duration.

I was in last Monday then on Tuesday braved the renovated Vauxhall Griffin to meet up with Will and Karo, although it's lost all the decor we loved and become pretty horrid; in a double blow, I also noticed that the old greasy spoon we used to head out to the morning after a night out has finally disappeared. It was great to hang out though and, as I headed off back to N's, we yet again resolved to do it more often. I was back at the Network Theatre on Wednesday to see Ketch's latest production, The Provok'd Wife, a Restoration comedy with an unusual focus on the female characters. On Thursday I saw music at 229: I was there for the first band on, Calva Louise, but more excitingly I caught up with my gig buddies for the first time in ages. Of the other bands, Breed didn't really impress, False Heads were good and Trampolene, who I'd been keen to see as I keep hearing the name, were lovely but I didn't get a very good sense of the music.

I was at the Old Blue Last for another gig on Friday, both bands on the bill were ones I'm following: snarling South Londoners Hotel Lux and Scottish lads Baby Strange. Saturday I checked out the Migration Museum in Lambeth with N, which was really good, nicely sized with an interesting exhibition that mixed exposition and art, after which I headed out to Egham for another atmospheric edition of Ghost Stories, complete with NPCing babies. On Sunday N & I pootled around the Wellcome Collection's exhibition on graphic design in health, not necessarily a natural draw for me but interesting enough for free. I popped home briefly then went down to New X to meet up with Joe & friends, as he was down for the weekend; we were supposed to be seeing some bands but just sat in the beer garden before moving back to Peckham. I stayed with the others for food as Joe headed back off to Manchester: as always, we vowed not to leave it until he next comes down for us to keep in touch, we actually swapped numbers this time so let's see . . .

I was at the National last night to see Follies with Ketch, loving a bit of Sondheim as I do: it was fun, interspersing the meat of the story with ballsier numbers from the incidental characters, which worked well. It's played all the way though sans interval and I was just beginning to feel it drag as they launched into the Follies at the end but still very enjoyable.
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I got back in the gig groove once I came back from Sweden: Thursday before last, I went to the Old Blue Last and to see Big & the Fat again, who were sandwiched between Sick Joy, who I really liked, and HORSEFIGHT, who were musically all over the place, fronted by larger-than-life Aussie and given to getting the crowd to chant their name, although I actually warmed to them as they went along. I was over at N’s Friday night, then headed home for a bit to spend a few hours there before travelling down to Hampshire in the afternoon to see K.

The original plan was for a whole bunch of people & their kids to come over for a BBQ and for us to camp in her garden overnight but K wasn’t feeling great so she’d cancelled and I went down just to hang out and watch a movie instead. I stayed a lot longer than I’d thought I would on the Sunday: made pancakes, took the dog for a walk with all the kids and had a late-afternoon roast, which was really lovely, although I had to get taxis both there and back from Petersfield, which is a bit of a killer on top of the train ticket.

When the train got into London, I went straight to the New Cross Inn to see The Garage Flowers, but was surprised to turn up in time for quite a few of the earlier bands too: London-French A Void, Bristol punks Kiss me Killer and Weekend Recovery, all with female vocalists and the first two majority female bands, which I feel like I’m seeing more and more, encouragingly, although I suspect it’s not reflected as much in bands that are playing larger venues. It also turned out one of my Workers’ Beer compadres is doing the sound there!

N came over and I saw my elusive flatmate for the first time in about 2 ½ weeks of mutually-finessed absences on Monday night and on Tuesday I poked around the South Bank with my former housemate R, who was over from Berlin. Wednesday I was at the Scala with M&E to watch Grouplove, who are so raucously joyous that seeing them is always bliss; they were being supported by Vukovi, Scottish metallers with a female vocalist, who I had seen a couple of times before: they’re endearing but the songs don’t quite stand out for me.

On Thursday I went up to The Finsbury for the first time (it turns out to be really near N, so I shall plan accordingly if I go back): I was there for guitar youngsters King Nun, who I was giving a second viewing to after seeing them at The Great Escape; they got going after some technical faff and improved as they went along. Support had come from the (apparently very) local Kid Wave and Venture Lows, who comprised of two bassists and a guitarist/frontman who switched between singing and a sort-of-rap over the top: it wasn’t for me but something a bit different at least.

James H came over to my work in the middle of Friday and we went out for lunch, then I ended up chez Ralph with N & M in the evening for a BBQ: so nice just to go round to someone’s house and hang out, which seems so rare in London. I met back up with N Saturday morning to check out the Peace Protest exhibition at the Imperial War Museum: it was solid rather than particularly revelatory but I was glad to have gone, having never been there before. After a couple of hours back home I headed out to Egham for our Ghost Stories game, which was really good: some excellent NPCing and atmospheric effects for an in-game séance.

Sunday I headed up to Didcot during the day to play board games for Mike’s birthday (Wordsy, Splendor and Sushi Go Party were all rattled through quite quickly, then a mammoth game of Unfair) before coming back to Tottenham for a BBQ with N, housemates and a few friends, which was fun, although I think everyone else had been spending quite a lot of the day drinking before I go there! Now [Monday morning] on a train down to Southampton to spend the Bank Holiday with R, who’s moved into a new house after many years.
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Last Tuesday N&I went to the Beehive with a friend of his also called Neil: I’m sure it was not an especially common name when I was growing up but the Neils in my life seem to have proliferated over the last five years. We met back up at Heathrow early on the Thursday to fly out to Stockholm. Travel took most of the day and we eventually pitched up at our AirB&B in Sodermalm in the late afternoon. Once we’d settled we went out for a wander around the island, which was allegedly Stockholm’s hipster enclave, mostly just exploring and then sitting outside at a bar on a square.

On Friday we headed out to Gamla Stan, which was the island that constituted the old city, and wandered about admiring the buildings, before heading over to Djurgarden. It was a sunny day and we wandered through some woodland before heading back up to the Vasa Museum, which houses a 17th Century warship that sank on its maiden voyage but remained preserved for centuries in brackish water. The sheer scale and detail of it is incredible and it’s presented really well; it was probably the best Cultural Thing we did for the whole trip. We chilled out in a park for a while, went back for a bit and out for food in Sodermalm, then to a buzzing venue called Tradgarden, which filled some urban space beneath a bridge with several bars, indoor and outdoor, DJs, a stage, a little cinema area and some cute little rooms in a traditional Swedish-house style. It was pretty awesome, although we had to rather eke out the drinks given the Swedish prices; we only stayed for a couple of hours but it kept N out past 11, which is something of an achievement.

Saturday was a bit more grey so we double-galleried: the Fotografiska first of all, which contained half a dozen manageably-sized exhibitions of photographs, only one of which was a dud, a record of the famine in South Sudan was particularly hard-hitting; then we headed over to the Moderna Museum and just looked through its main collection, which had a fair smattering of the big names from early 20th Century art. N tried to show me the old market hall but it was being renovated so we headed back for a bit before catching the train back out of the city to meet up with N’s cousin and her husband, who live out there part of the year. They have an idyllic little historical house with some woods at the back and a view of the lake from the front; in the evening they had some friends over for a barbeque, cooked over a stone hearth built in the garden.

We stayed over and had a chilled out Sunday with them, hanging out, then wandering around Sigtuna, the local town and Sweden’s oldest settlement; we poked around a loppis, a kind of upmarket jumble sale, then headed back into the city. We ambled back out around Sodermalm in the evening and accidentally caught a beautiful sunset from the Monteliusvagen boardwalks on the north of the island; we crossed into Gamla Stan for hot chocolate, then headed home.

Monday was our last full day and once again really sunny. We nonetheless spent most of the morning trekking around the Historical Museum, the highlights of which were the runestones; later we toured around the water on a ferry and walked around the perimeter of the beautiful, sun-dappled Langholmen. We went to view the impressive Stadshuset (city hall) up close, having been able to see it from pretty much everywhere we had been, then ate and hang out at an awesome bar on a pontoon just along the waterfront, called Malarpaviljongen; like other places in Stockholm, it seemed not so much to be an exclusively gay place but (as the guidebook put it) got more gay the later it got.

We were leaving late on Tuesday so left the flat, stowed our bag then caught a couple of last things: a little exhibition on Finnish design at the Kulturhuset and the Medieval Museum, which was cool but very strongly focussed on social history, which I don’t mind but could have done with a bit more kings and queens and dates. We sat in the Humlegarden for a while and watched the city beginning to get into the swing of a couple of cultural festivals which were getting underway just as we headed out to the airport to fly home. We were arriving late and some Gatwick-related horror didn’t help, eventually both getting back to mine close to 1am with the realisation that I probably should have taken Wednesday off too.
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A fortnight ago I spent the Monday getting the coach back from Sheffield, had a bit of time at home then headed out to Book Group. It had been my choice, The Countenance Divine by Michael Hughes, lured in by a glowing review that described it as a mix of David Mitchell & Hilary Mantell and a concept that mixed the literary, the historical and magical realism. In an unprecedented show of Book Group unity, we all found it indescribably awful: avoid at all costs if it ever crosses your path! I headed up to N's afterwards and we had dinner with his housemates.

M&E came over for more Dominion-playing on Tuesday, then I went to the theatre with Ketch and most of the book group lot on Wednesday to see The Ferryman, the latest Jez Butterworth, an amiable Irish epic with the steel of the Troubles lurking within, which was brilliant, although our seats were too vertiginous for Cousin A, who had to bail at halftime. I popped out to The Old Queen's Head to see some music on Wednesday: the bill had quite a range of acts, starting with a pretty painful one-man-and-guitar of the "you look like an angel" level of lyrical sophistication, then the well-supported Gwen & the Good Thing, who were very upbeat; I was there for Lullaby, who I'd happened upon once before and still impressed, so called it a day before the headliners.

I was shunning Empire and after a Friday night in headed out to Kew the next morning for E&A's wedding: it was a gloriously everyone-pitch-in-to-make-it-happen affair, we had offered to come and help set up beforehand, which turned out to play to our strengths: a bunch of random people rushing to get a load of different dishes done in an institutional kitchen felt just like Food Not Bombs, whilst N set up the sound system. It was quite a random wedding for me as I knew who nearly all the non-family attendees were (a few Eghamites, some back-in-the-day Cammies, a whole bunch of Oxford RPG Soc types I'd not seen in forever and a day) without necessarily knowing many of them very well, but from its semi-pagan ceremony to its cheesy-as-hell music to its plentiful mead, it was distinctive and delightful.

I headed down to sunny Guildford on Sunday to visit Granny: she was stuck on a bit of a loop of "you won't let me go on too long, will you" and "I suppose I just sit here until I pack in" than usual, but she said it all pretty cheerfully and it almost represented a more lucid appreciation of her situation than she normally has, even if she seemed to mostly confuse me with my uncle.

Had an evening in last Monday, went to Bar Wotever with R on Tuesday, which is always pleasant and had a bit of burlesque to go with the lip-synch acts, I watched a movie round at N's (Hunt for the Widlerpeople is good fun) Wednedsay, then met up with Ez for drinks on Thursday: back around Marylebone/Edgware Road for the second time in a few weeks.

I slipped away early on Friday and headed down to the New Forest to join some of my school friends plus kids at a campsite near Cadnam. We did very little: BBQs, frisbee/swingball/football or card games with the children, hanging out around a fire, but we were lucky with the weather and it was pretty blissful, despite the occasional tears. Our biggest expedition was for a pub lunch and then poking around a small area of woods on Saturday afternoon. After we packed up on another sunny Sunday, half of us drove down to see J&E in Brockenhurst for yet more food before I eventually got the train back to London.


Jul. 30th, 2017 05:40 pm
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I had only heard of Tramlines for the first time last year, when lots of bands I had been following seemed to be playing it, and since several of my school friends have settled around Sheffield it seemed like an ideal excuse to head up there. Other than looking at the line-up I didn’t really pay much attention to how it worked, so didn’t twig that, although it was Friday-Sunday, it doesn’t get underway until Friday evening; slightly unnecessarily, therefore, I left work early on Thursday to get the coach up there for the evening, in time to walk over to the Sharrow/Nether Edge middle-class bubble and join TQS (who I was staying with for the weekend) at the pub with some friends.

Friday )

Saturday )

Sunday )
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I had Monday evening at home last week and celebrated finally having my appetite back by cooking a ridiculous weather-inappropriate roast just for myself. I went to see Common at The National on Tuesday, which starred Anne-Marie Duff as a vengeful returning rural community member at the time of enclosures: it was nicely designed and some sinister Wicker Man-ish elements but most of us seemed to come out scratching our heads about what exactly it had been trying to say, beyond some individual v. community strands.

On Wednesday I went to see The Smith Street Band at The Garage with the usual Smith Street crew: they were supported by Shit Present, female fronted, a bit grungey and pretty decent, although they were rather eclipsed by the madness of The Bennies, fellow-Melbournians, who seemed to play about one song each from every genre, all with boundless gusto: they were certainly an experience. The Smithies didn’t disappoint but I do need to get round to getting more than one of their albums at some stage. The on Thursday N and I went to Royal Inn on the [Victoria]Park, for Woodburner, a folkish night we’d been to before. It was pretty endearing with some chap singing songs themed around Henry VIII in between the acts: Tell Tale Tusk were supporting and excellent; it was an album launch for Toytown Hustle, who I’d never technically seen but whose singer I’d caught in a couple of other guises (The Debt Collective, with Tell Tale Tusk): they have some brass and a double-bass and made a nice sound but whereas we had all sat for TTT, as the wide-but-shallow upstairs room filled we all had to stand up, at which visibility went out the window and the noise levels rocketed so the songs were hard to really get to grips with.

We managed Aberrant on Friday and on Saturday M & I went to see the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum , strolling smugly in thanks to the membership she and Cousin A had bought me: it was pretty crowded and we did a lot of queueing actually in the exhibition to shuffle from one print to another but I was glad I went, which I wouldn’t have done without the membership. I’m surprised that with this and the American Dream, the BM did two fairly atypical, print-based exhibitions so close together. After meeting N for tea when we got out, I headed back home for couple of hours before travelling to Egham to join the Ghost Stories LARP (I’d missed the first session) which was atmospheric and fun.

N and I headed back out into Surrey (Chobham) on Sunday where my brother and his wife were jointly celebrating their birthday with us and various parents, going out to lunch then hanging out back at theirs for Wimbledon and dessert. I popped down to Peckham in the evening (Rye Wax in the Bussey Building) for more music with a largely instrumental slant: wholly in the case of Cesca, who were pretty jazzy, then Paen were playing, who also seemed strongest when they dispensed with singing. Some friendly people also chatted to me as I sat around between bands too: perhaps that’s what happens when you cross the river!

I had another Monday evening in, went on Tuesday for what was initially just going to be a drink with MW (at the Thornbury Castle, where we used to go drinking from WLDC, which happily hasn’t changed much in the intervening 15 years) but I invited N, who invited his housemate, who invited a coursemate. It was a different dynamic but still very pleasant and I headed back with the Bruce Grove crew. Wednesday night I went out in Camden to the Black Heart: I got there halfway through Calva Louise, female-fronted rock that made me want to seek it out again; I was there for Fang Club who were really good and the headliners were Big Spring, who were fine, also quite rocky but the vocals a bit more swoopy.
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Once K had headed off, the day after Community Festival, I headed into town to spend some time hanging out on the South Bank roof garden with N, then came back to play board games (Plague Inc, appropriately enough!) with the Little Phoenix. I started the week with another couple of evenings-in, then headed to Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate (which is always a nightmare to get to and from, despite being technically not that far from home) to see a production of The Ladykillers which C had been doing her bit with: the story's a bit creaky but fun and the performances were really good. N was in Show Hell but thought he'd be finishing about 7 on Thursday so I headed up to Hackney to meet him: he eventually got away just approaching 10pm but luckily it was very pleasant to sit out and read on the grass outside Hackney Town Hall on a balmy summer evening. The warm weather also made me bail early to sit in Russell Square after work on Friday, prior to meeting up for a drink with Cousin Andy, M and another friend which was very pleasant, although it's sad what a novelty going for a drink after work on a Friday is these days.

It was Pride on the Saturday and I'd been vacillating for ages about going: I was pretty keen to but hadn't really worked out how to fit in, there were a couple of groups I liked the sound of but they're doing this whole thing where you're only supposed to march if you've got a wristband your group has paid for which I'm not a fan of. There were some spiritual successors to the Queer Mutiny groups I used to march with (No Pride in War/Lesbians & Gays Support the Migrants) who were going to crash the march sans wristbands: I went down and scoped them out but didn't see anyone I knew and they were already getting plenty of police attention, so I went and flaneured up and down the parade as it was forming up and said hi to Kim with The Queer Alternative posse: I could easily have just slipped in but I wasn't sure I would get much added value from hanging around in the sun for another four or five hours so headed down to Lewisham to play board games instead.

I went up to Tottenham in the evening where the Pride Punx crew were having their after-party at T-Chances with a bunch of bands: reggae dudes Dub Righters, then Brit-Brazilian Erege and Master Blaster from New Zealand, who were both much more straight down the line DIY punk. It was a really nice night, a proper community feel, but I didn't know anyone there and headed off after the bands back to N's, as he'd made it home from work. We had brunch in Islington Sunday morning, then I went home for a bit before heading back out to an over-run Vauxhall to meet up with Lovely Joe et al. who had turned up for the tail end of Pride in the Park/Black Pride in the Pleasure Gardens. It wasn't an event that was really on my radar but was really nice: free, friendly and chilled out. I hung out with them for an hour or two then went back home.
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I did consider not going to Empire, especially bearing in mind I wanted to be well for Glastonbury, but I'd had the cold for a couple of days, it wasn't getting any worse, and these things don't last very long, right? My deciding factor was whether I could carry all my stuff to the station and I managed this without any trouble at all, so carried on to Egham Friday morning for the usual rendez-vous. Now 17 days into this illness I'm more savvy to the fact that I tend to be better in the mornings and my capabilities first thing do not necessarily predict how I'm going to be for the rest of the day. Suffice to say the weekend was a bit of a write-off. It's hard to say how much was the illness and how much the heatwave but I basically spent two days lying in the shade, coughing. I didn't got into battle or participate in late-night revelry, the two main attractions of Empire for me, but I did spend the weekend in a field with friends, engage a bit with the game and the cool Navarri woods were probably a much better place to be dealing with the 30+ temperatures than London would have been.

I'd taken the Monday after Empire off for once, knowing I was going to need some time to recover and prepare for Glastonbury, so was able to spend the day resting: I was back in work for one day on the Tuesday, including a random school art thing in the early evening, then I headed into town for a quick drink with Shazy, who was over from Australia, before going to the Social in Fiztrovia, a long, narrow, subterranean bar, to see White Room: they were supported by rockers Naked Six, who I really liked, and the heavier Blackwaters, who were fine but didn't make quite such an impression.

The hope that I would be better for Glastonbury didn't seem to have been born out, although I was mostly just coughing, but I got myself packed and down to the coach station on Wednesday morning: I joined the most epic queue I have seen there, but it moved okay and I only left an hour after my allotted time. The journey wasn't too bad in terms of the hours of queuing in traffic that I've experienced some years, but it was the last of the Very Hot days and the coach's air conditioning wasn't really coping, leading to a near mutiny and some unscheduled cooling-off stops along the way. We all survived in the end and I got there about 6pm: left to my own devices I would have camped at the first patch of space I got to inside the gate but my gig-mate J was insistent I come and camp with him and his friends up near the Pyramid stage and came to carry some of my bags for me (even if he then needed to enlist his brother's help to find his way back to the tent).

I didn't see any bands or travel far that evening, we went for a wander up to the Park but that was as adventurous as it got, just hung out with J back at the tent whilst others went on trips to collect stuff from the car, figuring there was plenty of time for it all to get going when I had more energy the next day.
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So about 3 weeks ago now (June 7th) I headed down to the (unnecessarily expensive) Sebright Arms to see Yonaka: whether by accident or design, they were supported by two other female-fronted bands, firstly the impressive, grungey Valeras and then the rather more terrifying Hey, Charlie, which consisted of three near-identically dressed and styled women of alarming perkiness: I think it's safe to say I didn't really get them.

After distributing my various votes on Thursday (I was proxying for an Aussie-dwelling friend), N came over, although the exit poll was enough to lure me into staying up to watch the results. I lasted until about 5 before grabbing a couple of hours' sleep. Luckily Friday wasn't too strenuous as we were having our annual staff shindig, which consisted of crazy golf in Battersea Park then retreating onto the roof of one of my colleagues' blocks of flats to carry on drinking: it was all pretty fun (although it turns out the one roof covered several separate buildings, something I wish I'd known before repeatedly trying to let myself into a flat that I was sure was the right floor and number, but didn't quite look right, sometime after 11pm) and I headed off when the usual suspects seemed like they were getting up a head of steam.

I had to be up vaguely early on the Saturday to catch the coach down to Oxford for an Iris Trustee Meeting, then I came back to London to finally make it to Pink Glove in the evening with E, a queer indie night we've been failing to check out for about a year. It was over at the Victoria in Dalston, popular, friendly and fun. Sunday I took it easy during the day then headed over to the Fiddler's Elbow in the evening to join N as he was setting up for a performance at our friend B's occasional experimental music night: B's group, Far Rainbow played, N performed by himself this time, a piece involving Nivea hand cream was recreated and impressive things also happened with strings and an enormous wobble-board.

I headed down to Aberrant on the Monday, had an evening in on Tuesday, then on Wednesday All My Woes Began as I started to have a bit of a cold: I popped out anyway to the Camden Assembly Rooms, my first trip since it stopped being the Barfly: it's much the same, except they seem to have forgotten how to switch on the lights. The first support were Massmatiks, who had a bit of a metal hip-hop crossover thing going on, but I was there for Irish rockers Otherkin, so didn't stay for the headliners. I's back in Camden Thursday night to meet up with S at the Hawley Arms where a bunch of bands were playing upstairs: we were impressed by electronica in the form of The Luxembourgs and I'd come for the neo-grunge of Subterranean Popular, I was still feeling pretty under-par so we didn't stay late.
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Thursday before last I popped out to Dingwalls in the evening to see Get Inuit again: support came in the form of Superglue who were a bit yodelly for my tastes; to begin with GI themselves were leaving me a bit cold too this time, but they finished strongly. I headed over to N's got BBQ #1 of the long-weekend on Friday night with various friends and housemates, then headed straight down to Petersfield on Saturday where K & I had a couple of drinks before going back to hang out at hers, the week's glorious weather didn't seem to be quite holding out but this didn't prevent us from putting BBQ #2 into action.

After walking to where K had abandoned the car the previous night and hiding round the corner while she collected her kids (because she'd told her parents she'd gone up to visit me in London), I got the train back in the morning and headed straight out to Acton for L's traditional birthday BBQ (#3!) with the Badgers. I took on chefing duties after the usual faff getting the damn thing lit and underway. I was pleased to remind myself what home looked like in the evening and crashed out early, feeling pretty exhausted.

Bank Holiday Monday, N & I met up in Kew and walked along the Thames to just past Richmond (a considerably longer way than just going down the road from one to the other!), stopping off at a food festival in Syon Park, where B was working with his chilli company, along the way. It wasn't a massive walk but again I seemed to be pretty much wiped out for the day.

I celebrated the novelty of having local friends by having the usual suspects over to play games on Tuesday, ventured down to the wilds of Wallington on Wednesday to celebrate Kim's birthday with a vegan feast, then had my old Queeruption buddy V over for dinner the next night: he's another one thinking of leaving London, I wonder if we're seeing a second wave of departures, there was a definite early-30s "the kids need more space" tranche, now there seems to be a late-30s & single "something needs to change before I get stuck like this forever" trend.

I was back in Tottenham on Friday night, N & I nosed around the Euroart Studios' annual open weekend again, even though L wasn't actually in residence this year, then hung out back at his. Saturday was Camden Rocks, a one-day festival around all the pubs and venues in Camden which I couldn't really say no to seeing as it's pretty much on my doorstep: I was worried that, being compacted into one day, it may be a hell of queuing and not being able to get in anywhere, but I didn't have a single issue and managed to see everyone I planned to (in fact I did quite a bit of hanging out too, having built more time to get between venues than one-end-of-Camden to the other really required); PFW dropped in and out for a couple of bands and I ran into some familiar gig-mate faces too. (I'll post about the bands separately).

Yesterday I walked down to Regent's Park and picnicked there with N before walking back home again; I've been at home this evening too, although I'm actually feeling fairly on top of 'home stuff' for once, having taken the morning off on Thursday, in theory for the dishwasher repairman to come around, only of course when I tried the dishwasher first thing in the morning, having steadfastedly failed to fill on the last half dozen attempts, it started working perfectly.
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I went to the Michelangelo & Sebastiano exhibition at the National Gallery Saturday before last with M and Cousin A; it should perhaps have been titled "Sebastiano and how Michelangelo Influenced him" as the latter was largely represented by some sketches and drawings, some (very impressive) copies of statues and the odd letter; still, it wasn't bad, although the subjects of the works got pretty samey after a while. M and I dashed home, tarted ourselves up, then headed back out down to South West London and the gothic grandeur of the Royal Victoria Patriotic Building for the evening of J&J's wedding, who we knew separately (she went out with M's brother at medical school, I was friends with him at LMH) but had met online; we'd been slightly dreading not knowing anyone else there but they were actually a friendly and interesting bunch.

On the Sunday I nosed around the Photographers' Gallery with N (the short-list for the Deutsche Borse prize plus some 60s realism from Roger Mayne), which was not somewhere I ever go and well worth it, then in the evening saw Frank Turner at the Roundhouse with M&E: it was the third of his four-night residency there and the acoustic set. Beans on Toast was almost inevitably supporting, with a whole bunch of new songs actually, which was great, then a chap from Frightened Rabbit. Whilst I'd see Mr. Turner in full-on band mode for choice, it was good to have a different kind of experience from him and hear a load of songs he probably wouldn't usually play.

Last Tuesday I met up with Kiki before she moves back to Sweden after 17 years in London: she was pretty much my first new friend here when I moved down so it'll be a shame not to still have her around but we had an almost idyllic evening, taking out curry from Drummond Street, eating it in Regent's Park's rose garden and then wandering up through the park and Primrose Hill in the evening sunshine.

N came over on Wednesday and then Thursday I headed down to Brighton for The Great Escape, the new music festival around all the pubs and venues there. I'll inflict all the bands on you in a separate (easily skippable!) post but I had a really nice time. It chucked it down on the Thursday, then started to get really nice from Friday lunchtime onwards, at pretty much the point that A arrived to take up my spare ticket [well, technically the spare I had bought after selling my spare, following some communication drama] and it worked really well: it was great to hear all A's stories of a life fully-lived and she seemed pleased that I had a schedule mapped out she could just follow. I didn't do quite as much hanging out in Brighton's cafes as on previous visits but it's always a lovely city to spend time in, with the month-long cultural festival, some kind of Morris Dancer convention and much else besides going on in addition to TGE. I was back in the same hostel dorm room in Hove that I'd used last time for the first two nights, then it turned out there is a handy 4am train back to London so after the last band finished at 2 on Saturday, just down the road from the station, I just waited for that and was in my own bed shortly after 6.

Once I had emerged on Sunday, N and I poked around the British Museum's little queer history exhibition and accidentally stumbled upon what's left of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in one of the back rooms (Oh in here? Just all that remains of one of the Seven Wonders of the World) which I'm not sure I even knew they had. We hung out in Russell Square for a bit, found that one of my LMH contemporaries had done the piece of public art outside the Crick Institute and generally ambled around in the sun before parting ways.

I walked along the river to Book Group after work on Monday (The Power by Naomi Alderman, generally well received), went down to Lewisham for board games in place of Aberrant last night and have been spodding at home this evening after strolling through a particularly verdant-looking Hyde Park on my way home to give myself the impression I'd spent at least some of the current heatwave outside.
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Having had a relatively gig-free April (honestly, I only went to two!), May is doing its best to redress the balance: I started on the 1st, I thought I'd missed out on the Los Campesinos! gig at Koko because I'd been keeping it free for M's birthday, but it turned out that she had other plans and I managed to buy a ticket off someone who couldn't make it: I only caught the very end of Muncie Girls but happily did catch the eye of [personal profile] venta & Chris C, who is was lovely to catch up with. Norwegians Slotface had plenty of energy and Los Campesinos! did not disappoint.

We caught up with Aberrant on Tuesday, after having to cancel a couple of sessions, then I managed to finesse a couple of bands playing just up the road from each other in Camden on Wednesday: first off The Shantics at The Monarch: they had impressed me as a support somewhere once but came across as a bit Razorlighty in both sound and attitude on this occasion, I managed to peg it up to Fiddler's Elbow and see nearly all of The Garage Flowers, who I felt much more at home with and had a bit of a shambolic glam thing going on.

I lured N to see Big and the Fat (a reconstitution of 18 Nightmares at the Lux) at The Victoria on the Thursday and happily he seemed to enjoy their noise rock. For the weekend, I headed down with the usual suspects to Seaford to strike out from PFW's absent parents' house to appreciate the surrounding countryside. This time we got the bus over to Eastbourne then walked back along the coast, only instead of going up and down the Seven Sisters, we walked along the bottom of them, clambering across the slippery rocks that low-tide had uncovered. It was quite a challenge but we succeeded in the day's stated objective to not appear on the news.

We headed back quite early on Sunday, so I go to spend plenty of time at home (with an interval meeting N in Regent's Park for cake) and I was in Monday night too. On Tuesday I caught Guardians of the Galaxy 2 up in Walthamstow, which didn't quite have the first one's impact but was still plenty of fun. Since then it's been gigs: Wednesday, The View marking 10 years of their first album at The Garage, supported by Scottish lads Pronto Mama, which had all the friendly energy I've come to expect. Thursday, Shame at The Dome, supported by Monk, who were interesting in a rather unpolished kinda way, and Sorry, who I'd seen before as Fish; Shame had all the sneer and sweat they're famed for and are probably one of my favourite new bands at the mo. Friday, now old favourites (albeit with quite a few different members) Tankus the Henge, back at The Garage; they remain anything but dull, although there's been a relatively low influx of new material in the years we've been watching them. There also seems to be an increasing trend towards Jaz taking his shirt off at any opportunity.
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My actual birthday was hectic at work, but productive: some people happily getting sorted out just before the shelters closed, then N bought me dinner at an Indian on Exmouth Market. On Friday night I went out to Planet Angel with the usual suspects, in Vauxhall again where other friends were boogieing at a Popstarz-throwback night just metres away, although I didn't regret my choice. Planet Angel never quite gets the crowd that Rumpus does but there were enough people to make it fun.

Once I'd surfaced on Saturday, the whole day was given over to cooking in preparation for Sunday when a bunch of people (mostly of an Eghamish origin, including Special Overseas Guests!) came over for to eat curry and hang out: it all seemed to go well, everyone just about squeezed in the flat and M had come back down from the Peaks, the only shame was that N couldn't get away from work.

I had an unexpected but welcome evening-in to recover on Monday, then went out in Tottenham on Tuesday for N's housemate D's 30th: I had thought we were going to the pub, so had already eaten by the time the plan had morphed into a meal, meaning (for the first of two occasions last week) I sat there awkwardly while others ate, although given the quantities of leftover curry I had to get through, I didn't really regret this.

It was a week of former housemates: I met up with R, who I lived with briefly in Lewisham, on Wednesday night, we wandered up onto the Heath, then [personal profile] cryx, who I hadn't really spoken to properly on my birthday, on Thursday evening (at dinner in Vauxhall: especially lovely to see Dr. J for the first time in about 8 years) and then heading out to Tonbridge together on Good Friday for a N&S's wedding. It was a lovely occasion, with a lot of old faces (mostly Egham, plus a couple of Oxford thrown in for good measure) I hardly see these days.

After [personal profile] cryx had headed off on Saturday, I had a couple of hours to get ready before my brother arrived with his family, the first time they'd come to visit me. We went pretty promptly off on a long walk on the Heath with N, had a meal at mine, then went for a wander through Camden Market and Primrose Hill the next morning, although the little playground up the road seemed to trump all of these in the eyes of my nieces. I had almost forgotten that it would be actually Easter when they were here but I just about got some eggs etc. in time and, whilst my brother and I didn't exactly chew each others' ears off, it seemed to all go pretty well.

They stayed later than I was expecting on Sunday, so I did a quick clear-up before heading over to N's: there had been a cheese & wine plan with his housemates, which was pleasantly unpressured. We headed off into town on the Bank Holiday Monday and saw the Queer British Art exhibition at Tate Britain, which was . . . fine but somehow didn't completely engage me, despite highlighting a few interesting figures (Havelock Ellis, Gluck) I wasn't aware of. We headed back up to Dalston for some boozy afternoon socialising before I headed home.

The drop-in's been closed this week, although the shortened week has meant I haven't really made much in the way of inroads to my office work: one of the flip-sides to keeping on the other caseworkers is that I'm supposed to be taking a step back from frontline work to concentrate on managing the team which is an going to be an awkward transition I'll have to start negotiating over the next few weeks. I've just been home in the evenings the last couple of days, which was much needed really.
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First Dreawidth Post! Warning to those of you who weren't following me on LJ: I have an overwhelming need to diarise. Feel free to skip and skim as I'm sure it's not of vast interest to anyone not invested in either tracking my day-to-day movements or young guitary bands playing around London pubs. With all the excitement I'm several weeks behind too, but I won't try to cram it all into one post . . .

After Mother's Day, I started the week playing Aberrant with the Lewisham gang, I went to the shelters Tuesday night, N came over Wednesday and then I had a couple of gig nights: The Bulletproof Bomb were playing Nambucca on Thursday, they've gone heavy on their "sportswear punk" shtick but on this occasion were rather overshadowed by their support, first Loifior who were over from Hamburg and really skilled, then Blue Zoo, who as far as I can tell were glam rockers who had a couple of songs in the charts in the 80s and are still enjoying themselves. On Friday it was Arrows of Love at Moth Club: in their case supported by Meat, who had a fairly similar noise-punk approach to the Arrows, the excellently-named but sadly fairly average Average Sex and Claw Marks, fronted by a gyrating bear in hot pants. Arrows were really good and actually seem to be giving more coherent performances with time, which definitely wasn't the trajectory they looked like they were on at one stage.

I spent most of Saturday daytime in domesticity then headed down to Hampshire, where K has moved to an even more rural spot (West Tisted): she had friends over for BBQ #1 on the Saturday evening, then on Sunday L came over with her family for BBQ #2, it was lovely to spend lots of time with K's kids in-between times (even if her eldest did lock us in the cellar for a bit) and it was great weather to be out in the garden and poking around the local area.

I came back to an empty flat as M had gone up to the Peaks for (most of) a fortnight, it was also the last week of the shelters, so I had my last evening in work for the season on the Monday: it all seems to have gone well this year, the third circuit establishing itself successfully and we've found ways to keep all of the seasonal caseworkers on over the Summer, which is great as they've been a good team.

I went to the Sebright Arms to see Fangclub on Tuesday: the whole line-up had quite a grungey feel: I just caught the end of female-fronted Krush Puppies, Lullaby were up next and really impressive, although it took Fangclub to finally get people moving. Wednesday I marked the eve of my 40th year by making the most of being home alone and having an indulgent evening in.
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Joe's birthday has maintained its form while getting quieter year on year: we even only managed a short burst dancing around his bedroom on the party night two weeks ago, mostly it was just half a dozen of us sat around watching 90s music videos, although I still hadn't really slept by the time morning came round and I decided clearly the thing to do was walk from Chorlton into the centre of Manchester when the others finally crashed. Unsurprisingly, Sunday didn't feature much beyond the coach back to London.

I had Aberrant on Monday, the shelter Tuesday and on the Wednesday evening N, finally free of weeks of musicals, came over. I finished the week with gigs: down at Jamm on Thursday, where Arrows of Love were supporting The Wytches, although first up were all-girl rockers Brutalistas. Arrows gave one of their best sets and the enthusiastic young crowd responded well to them, I also got more into Wytches than the last time I'd seen them and had a nicely sociable night thanks to a friendly student and Nima. Then Friday I was at the Hoxton Bar and Kitchen for Sisteray: they had Young Native and female-fronted Berries in support and were good, although could have done with more of a crowd.

Last weekend I got the train down to Wiltshire where K was celebrating her 40th at a gorgeous converted chapel in the equally picturesque Malmesbury, not that we saw much of it. Inevitably there was a Murder Mystery Dinner involved, although the original plan to do this in the afternoon, then go out for dinner and on to a pub soon devolved into drinking through the afternoon, doing half the Murder Mystery, getting distracted, half the people insisting we finish it in some kind of jumbled and chaotic fashion then stumbling across the road to the pub at about 10pm, although I took K back after about half an hour, the put-upon locals not responding well to her usual drunken sociability. We danced around the kitchen to all the usual songs until the others came back to hang out for a bit. I got to poke around the town a little before getting the (surprisingly swift) train home on Sunday, vegging out in the afternoon, then heading over to N's for an evening roast.

I had an evening in on Monday, M and I polishing off Westworld, then had the resurrected Book Group, albeit a trois, Tuesday (all of us more or less having enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities) before heading back to N's for pancakes with a rare Full House. I was at a work conference Wednesday and Thursday: Homelessness and Health, which was interesting but a bit above my pay-grade and, me being me, I didn't really chat to many people: good to hear Professor David Nutt speak and poke around Brompton Cemetery in the lunch breaks though. Wednesday evening I met up with [ profile] ketchgirl to see Travesties in the West End, which was pure bliss: Freddie Fox in a Tom Stoppard may be some kind of 'die happy' moment. I went back to the office after the conference Thursday as there were some after-work drinks planned: N came along but it didn't go on very late and we went to the Stockpot before an interminable bus home. Last night I was at the shelter again, which at least kept me away from the flat that's once again been turned into DIY chaos by a visitation from M's Mum & her partner.
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I had a nice day down in Southampton the Sunday before last, I met up with R & family for a walk in the New Forest and home-made rice pudding during the day, then hooked up with J and L to watch Gaz Brookfield at Talking Heads in the evening. He was supported by Nick Parker, who I’ve seen play with him before, and it finished early enough that I didn’t have to get the absolute last train back to London.

As at the shelter Monday night, then had a day off on Tuesday to head up to Oxford for this year’s Iris Project Festival, which was themed around Science Ancient & Modern: such luminaries as Robert Winston were speaking, although I was keeping the hordes at bay on the food stall with the whole time, so didn’t see much of it: there was a fabulously eccentric old professor at the drinks reception though, who had come with his telescope and habitually miaows down the phone to his wife.
Wednesday night our occasional school friend meet-up dinner had become a birthday dinner for Fiona, who brought some Outsiders along, that for once I think we managed not to scare off, then I had Aberrant the following evening. Friday night I indulged in the privilege of living where and when I do: having dinner and chilling out at home, finding out exactly what time a band I wanted to see (Desert Planes) were on at the Monarch (stage times are one of the things Facebook has been great for), popping into Camden just to see them then popping home again to chill out some more.

I had a pretty busy weekend, all of my plans involving M&E, who hopefully didn’t get too sick of me: we had a meet-up with the Empire group in town Saturday afternoon, in theory for planning but mostly just hanging out, then E and I had a brief interlude where I actually tried to spend some time with N, although this mostly just involved being in the background while he worked in various different locations; we headed up to Tottenham to reunite with M and brace Styx for an event called Gypsy Disco. We had taken their event times rather too literally and ended up being way too early: it was an endearingly shabby but rather cold warehouse space, although people were friendly around the braziers in the courtyard. We were mostly there for Jabul Gorba (who we’d seen before at Rumpus) but I may actually have preferred the other band playing, Crinkle Cuts, and their infectiously danceable funk/reggae/ska. I mostly missed the circus acts trying to get to the bar and once the bands were done, having got there so early, we didn’t really have the energy to stay on too late: luckily the night tube made getting home a breeze.

On Sunday I headed out to Egham for the hottest social date in town: Daniel’s 2nd Birthday. It was another good crowd at TBFKA The House of Plot and even the birthday boy throwing up in the middle of the lounge didn’t seem to dampen proceedings. I headed back into London with M&E: we seemed to be specialising in the North East as tonight’s gig was with the Walthamstow Folk Club, above Ye Olde Rose and Crown. I was a proper old school folk club, with members of the audience coming forward to sing fold standards at the start of each half before giving the floor to Grace Petrie, but much friendlier than my traumatising experience with the Islington one.

On Monday I went back to the Pleasance Theatre and watched N’s students perform Rent, which was great, although they did need to restart due to a microphone issue at one stage, and actually got to spend some time with him. Tuesday I had at home, Wednesday at the shelter, then Thursday I was supposed to see Yonaka but had come over all shivery and feverish: I had a lie down when I got in and never made it up again until the next morning. I was only working a half day on Friday so managed to make it through it then hopped on the bus up to Manchester for my annual attendance of Joe’s birthday, the end of an era as he’s finally moving out of his studenty Chorlton flat.
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