Thursday, July 31, 2003

"I invented Top of the Pops when I was a top-class DJ playing in dance halls and discotheques..."

An interesting editorial by Jimmy Savile in today's Guardian on the demise of Top of the Pops. It really is boring, isn't it?

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

On my lunch, I was in town running some errands when the heavens opened. It was the sort of rain that even my trustworthy Muji umbrella couldn't fend off, and I got completely soaked. I decided to take refuge at the central library, which has a great covered entrance, but after 10 minutes of standing around with an ever increasing group of fellow soggy people and no sign of it tapering off, I decided to make a break for it.

As I ran through to Albert Square, I suddenly noticed that the town hall square had been transformed into a rustic farm. Literally! There were corn fields, shacks burning charcoal fires, people dressed as peasants and paddocks. A lonely cow stared at me balefully as I passed - probably thinking "what the f*&k did I do to deserve this?"

It then occured to me that now there's going to be people side stepping cowplops in Manchester's already dubious puddles...

Still loving the job - it helps that I have the coolest manager ever! She's just been to France and brought back some nice Maison du Cafe coffee for the office as well as this incredible chocolate with almonds in a praline salted coating. And she's always bringing me in a cappuccino or my favourite drink from Zest, their peanut butter espresso smoothie.

Sometimes I think I must be dreaming... coming from my work history it's quite a shock. Someone I used to work with at the Truly Evil Telly Job told me that my old boss actually refused to come to the staff christmas meal when she found out that she would be expected to pay for her assistant - but in the next breath was talking about the country retreat she was planning to buy in the Lake District. The saddest present I ever got from her was a feather boa she been given at a seasonal awards ceremony, which she handed over when she came back to the office completely pissed at 3 o'clock in the afternoon... so not much has changed there! And at my very last telly job, I got a bottle of tequila unceremoniously plonked on my desk for my christmas present - in February. Well, at least that was a slight improvement.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Had an amazing weekend - it started off with rain in Manchester and a crowded train full of surly, soggy passengers, but the sun was shining by the time I got to London. I headed to All Souls church in Oxford Circus to meet my Actionette hostess, Crepe Suzette. From there we headed to her flat for a delightful evening of Ratatette (Actionette ratatouille), chardonnay and practicing a routine for Saturday night with her sister Tourette.

On Saturday morning, we shopped around Camden for beach balls, hula hoops and all things glittery for our stage outfits. Sarah and Maya, two film makers, turned up at around 2 pm to film us practicing, packing up and leaving for the club for the documentary they're making about the Actionettes. While we were loading up the taxi, a bunch of little brassy children came up to us to ask if we were pop stars. (I said yes, of course...how could I resist?)

I love everything about the Water Rats - it's such a great venue. For one thing, the owners lets the girls in at about 3 and them in peace to decorate as they please. They even let us chill some brought-in cava behind the bar and the soundman, a lovely Irish guy, is always incredibly patient and helpful. All in all, a perfect venue. I snuck off to freshen up and down a much needed espresso before getting glammed up in the tiny backstage room. Despite the heat, I thought we all looked particularly fab in our dresses for the sets - red, pink and orange for the first one and green and blue for the second. I'll link to some photos later, since I forgot my camera, but it was definitely the best one yet. I just wished I could join in for some of the dances, especially "Bar-B-Q" by Wendy Rene - what an amazing song!

Sunday brought glorious weather - all sun and balmy breezes. After a leisurely breakfast and a wander, I scooted across town and managed to record another three songs with Phil (Lesley Gore's "Summer and Sandy", Nino Tempo's "Boys Town" and "Easy as 123" by Jill Gibson) before snagging a late train back to Manchester. Just before I left, my friend Mick gave me a special treat - an advance copy of his latest project - "THE BREAKAWAYS & FRIENDS-THAT'S HOW IT GOES" - a fantastic anthology out on Castle on the 11th August. Tons of great pictures of the girls and all of their best work, both their own and as backing vocalists, all in one place. Very classy 60s girls indeed!

Friday, July 25, 2003

A few hours to put in the office before my train to London this afternoon - it's raining like crazy and I feel sleepy.

I found this amazing site via the lovely Goldtop - pictures of inflight food from every airline imaginable! It really makes me want to fly business class to Japan... sigh. One day.

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Oh my little pickled cabbage, how I miss you. The corn, she make me so dusty, I am so ashamed! The weirdest divorce story ever...

New life so far...

Cons

1. Being lulled to sleep by late night buses, street cleaning lorries and drunken Mancunians stumbling around.

2. Sunday karaoke at a local pub that starts at noon, doesn't finish until 8 pm and gets broadcast out into the road for some reason.

3. The local psycho squeegee guy who shouts "f*&k" constantly as he waits for cars to stop, and gets even more irate when his manner scares off anyone who might give him spare change.

Pros

1. No more commuting - I can walk to work in about 20 minutes. In fact, I can now walk pretty much everywhere.

2. Being able to pick up groceries or last minute shopping needs and still be home by 5:45.

3. The entertainment value of said drunken Mancunians. Sometimes. Especially when they squabble with their loved ones at the top of their voices.

4. Love Saves the Day is now my local for that all important americano...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Once again, a quiet spell because of more life changes that I won't be going into detail about here. I've spent the weekend moving into a flat in the city centre with an old friend from my telly days. So no time, energy or web access meant no blogging until I got to the adsl at work today.

But I will quickly remind everyone that I have a show on Saturday with the Actionettes at the Water Rats in London (328 Grays Inn Road, a quick walk from Kings Cross station.) Doors open at 9, £4 entry, first set at 10:15 ish and the second one just after midnight with DJ sets in between. It's a 60s summer special, with lots of beach blanket bingo beats and the usual gaggle of girls in 60s finery, running around drinking cocktails and spilling liquid eyeliner everywhere... exactly what I need after a few heavy weeks!

Monday, July 14, 2003

Michael J. H. - 23rd October 1951 - 8th July 2003

I wasn't sure if I should write about this, but today's events were so moving that I decided I should. On Tuesday, my friend Carole's best friend Michael passed away after a long battle with cancer.

They both came into my life last August, after Carole got in touch to see if I'd ever be organising a girl group night in Manchester. She mentioned she had a friend who loved girl groups, but who was too ill to travel to the parties in London. That was Michael, and he was a driving force behind me getting off my arse and organising Slow Fizz in November. Although I only met Michael a handful of times, I felt lucky to have gotten to know him before his illness prevented him from socialising. I also felt that I knew him through Carole, who told me countless stories as we got to know each other over the months that followed.

The service at St. Ann's Church this morning (a gloriously hot, sunny morning too!) was beautiful but heartbreaking. A pianist was playing Chopin's "Nocturne No. 1 in B flat minor" as we walked in, which started off a morning of tears. I'm not religious, but when the reverend asked us to kneel in prayer I found myself doing it without thinking - there was something soothing about the ritual. Perhaps the most moving moment was when Michael's boyfriend (bravely) read out a little speech, and when he quoted a Dusty song at the end I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in the house.

We travelled on to the cremation, and the tears started afresh when the Ronettes "Be my baby" came on to let us know to come into the chapel. Although this song means something to a lot of people, for me it hit home because I'd sung it specially for Michael at Slow Fizz when Carole told me it was his favourite song.

After a brief service, suddenly Dusty's "I'm coming home again" came on and the emotional impact made me sob out loud. Maybe it was because I've always felt incredibly emotional about Dusty's death, and the two moments put together just floored me. After that, the Crystal's "Da Doo Ron Ron" came on and the mood changed - slowly, people laughed quietly to themselves as they wiped their eyes. The ridiculously cheerful song seemed to be Michael's way of saying a happy and cheeky goodbye, and it was great.

Monday, July 07, 2003

"A pie today, it could be something else tomorrow, and that's why I'm not going to let this go without a prosecution."

God, this one is *so* Canadian...

Friday, July 04, 2003

I've just bought two door stops for our office from the nearest hardware store "Hang 'Em and Bang 'Em". Sometimes I really love Manchester...

Thursday, July 03, 2003

I have to apologise for not responding to all the latest comments - because I didn't think I had any! For some reason, the counter is showing zero even though there may be some in there. I haven't got a clue how to fix it, but I'll try...

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

I brought back some hazelnut vanilla coffee from the Gourmet Garage in NYC, and natch, it's delicious. But until this morning, I thought the slogan on the bag said "Shop like a Cher", not "Shop like a Chef".

Clearly, I have been watching too much Will and Grace...