Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
So now, after three or four years of doing the Tuesday busk. Dave, Alec and I have become quite convincing at playing certain songs. What used once to be a bunch of disparate strummers in the corner of the pub, now has a nucleus, which knows a number of vintage Dylan songs, a bit of Paul Simon stuff, Eddie Cochran and Elvis. Sure, I'll occasionally pick up a guitar and do the odd Beatles song, or Fire Brigade by The Move...which I once used to play for cigarettes in the school bogs back at Elliott. Sometimes I'll even play one of my own. But mostly now, I'm playing the bass, which I love.
Dave says things like: "We ought to be careful, you know. That last number sounded scarily competent." Nonetheless, despite this self-deprecation and a lack of expectations in early days, the numbers are starting to hang together, so that people who drift into the pub now stop to listen. A landlady from another pub has come in once or twice. As a result of this, Hurricane (I wanted to call us The Android Sisters) now have an actual booking down the road. Back in autumn we did a spot in a pub up the road. This was an adventure, but it did sort of work. We've now started rehearsing. With some 35 numbers (some of which need polishing up a bit) we have a repetoire of sorts. Much of this stuff is Dylan. Alec can actually sound like Dylan. This is quite handy really. Dave's good at the early rock'n'roll stuff and has a good voice for it. I just chip in some backing vocals here and there. Mostly though, I hold down the rhythm and try to do an impression of what the records sound like. It's amazing that I've been playing the bass part for The Zombies She's Not There without really knowing it.. I actually listened to the record two days ago and found that what I do is not very much like the real thing at all. I'm correcting that now. It's a very good part, when I consider that it was devised, as was the rest of the song, by a bunch of 16 year old St Albans schoolboys.
Rehearsals take place in Alec's shed...a sort of Portakabin, at the side of his house which is very comfortable. Dave has a shed as well. Nick the electrician who lives round the corner has a shed where all his guitars are. All three of them have good strong marriages. And a shed. I don't have a shed. That's probably at heart of my disastrous love life. My little house over the arch is my shed, I suppose. I don't know whether blokes with sound marriages get actually exiled to the shed. Or whether they just think at some point. "If this marriage is gonna work, I'm gonna need a shed."
There's another bloke I know who's an engineer. Nice bloke. He got re-married in middle years. One summer night, a mate and I were walking to the pub. We saw him up on the hill there, building a platform and a rather classsy framework, mouth full of nails, hammering away. My mate and I looked at each other. "How long's Bill been married now?" We thought back a bit. "Gotta be about three years now, hasn't it? We looked back at the structure going up in the yard and said: " Yep." A man needs a shed, sometimes.
The quality papers very often have a feature detailing what various people do in a week. I myself mostly don't remember. Here just for the record, I'll put down what I do remember.
Monday. Fuzzy. Answer e-mails, and finish article on Morris Dancing v Salsa Dancing for the East Anglian. 10.30 Run round the corner to Fiona's house, with a bad cough and a bit of a hangover to record four new songs on four-track for demos. These involve just acoustic guitar, vocals and backing vocals. Tracks are Scarecrow Hair and Saucer -Eyed , Chocolate Vauxhall, Julia Blue (both of these only written last week) and My Back Yard. To the pub for a couple of glasses and then cook Fiona her tea for all her sterling work, the results of which, she calls 'chocolaty' and I call 'crunchy granola'. Both of these expressions mean that the sounds on tape (and it is tape) are honest and un-polished...in a good way.
Tuesday Clear-ish.Answer e-mails, File copy. Ring Sunday Express editor and get commissioned to do 32-line (pertinent and rhyming poem) commemorating 50 years of the miniskirt. Most of the day is spent on this. End of the day is spent writing a new song: Will I Do? which spills out all in one lump, as the best songs often do. With songwriting it's a well. You leave the well for a while and while you do so, it fills up so that in a binge of a few short weeks, you can pretty much write an album. It's what I do, anyway. At nine p.m., round to the pub to play bass for the weekly busk. The landlady and partner from another pub come in and invite us to play a gig there sometime soon.
Wednesday Tired. Answer e-mails, correct miniskirt poem and file. Send some invoices and file poem to newspaper. Diddle around with guitars and piano. Clean fireplace out and bring up coal and wood. Do a month's worth of receipts for accounts book. Realise I'm absolutely knackered. Pub. Two drinks. Cook. Bed.
Thursday. Clear. Correspond with various people I'm doing gigs for. Rehearse for tonight's gig. Just about to start writing when Sunday Express features Ed. rings to commission 900 word piece on Patrick McGoohan. Hooray. 12.15 commence writing, researching as I go. 5.15. First draft more or less there, but gig looming. Down tools, get changed, check intruments and set-list. Make a light high-power meal. Go and do gig. During break meet regional editor for brief discussion on the state of the industry. Forecast, gloomy. Back upstairs for second set. Use up drinks tab and go home alone.
Friday Fuzzy Up early and doing e-mails, blogs and tidying up 2nd draft of McGoohan article. Send article in before 11a.m. and hope to God there aren't too many inaccuracies. Order more coal from coal merchant and go shopping in the Co-op. Run back round to Fiona's where Monday's demoes have been transferred to digital format, to listen to results. Come home for quick lunch and tidy up debris left from the week's work. More filing. Pub. Not really in the mood, so home mid-evening for food and early night.
Saturday; Clearish but tired.To the farmer's market to talk to stall-holders and research the subject for forthcoming article for the East Anglian. Home. Afternoon spent hoovering, dusting, washing floors, polishing windows and furniture and playing the piano. Dark. Prepare evening meal. Pub. Two wines. Home. Cook and eat evening meal with daughter and daughter's friend. Pub. Two wines, with sundry musicians, poets and others. Home. Bed.
Things to do next week: More accounts and invoices. Answer e-mails. Rustle up more work. Do an inventory of various merchandise for forthcoming online shop. Write article for East Anglian and poem for Sunday Express. Commence poem for well-loved villager who is leaving village soon. Write at least one more song for next batch of four demoes. Contact record company to see if and when I start the new album. Exhume book started last year and recommence work on it, a thing I've been attempting to do for two weeks now. Fix hairline crack in bath (on good advice) with clear nail-varnish. Get more sleep. Drink less wine.
That's right, it's my new job: Nurse Whisperer. If you have a nurse that's traumatised or not behaving right, just send her over to my ranch and after a while, I'll reluctantly consent to see her. I've had several decades of experience with wild nurses and after a while they always come round. Even if you live a long way away, if you've got a troubled nurse just drive her over here in a good strong nurse-trailer and after a while of letting her run around, I'll get her used to wearing a halter, then before you know where you are, she'll be happily cantering around your bed again, giving you blanket baths and enemas and taking your temperature, like she never even heard of the phrases ' BUPA pay-scales' or 'industrial action.' Hooray for common sense!
Incidentally, a great poetry gig for Poetry Wivenhoe, yestereen, with Roz Hall and Jude Simpson. People stacked up down the staircase trying to get in. All of this without any Arts Council funding or interference. See. It can be done. All you've got to do is make sure that your poets know how to rhyme, play a bit of music, tell a few gags and don't get too miserable on the job. People don't like serious-beard, po-faced, wretchedly obscure poetry. As soon at the chrome domes down in Oxbridge realise that and f*** off out of it, perhaps we'll all be better off.
LET'S MAKE POETRY HISTORY in 2009!
PS. Jude Simpson has a MySpace. Go and find it and check out Track 4 "Let's Make A Baby"
L-R Roz Hall, Martin and Jude Simpson