Monday, October 24, 2005

tired of the rock n roll lifestyle 

it's been a crazy busy couple of weeks but now i find myself back in eastbourne pondering how nothing and everything changes; sometimes i think i measure my life in the gaps away from here. am staying at hazels becuase i had to get down and see nan who is still in hopital. its not good. she has always been the sprightliest person i know but yesterday she told me she didnt want to get out of bed ever becuase thats where accidents happen. i dont know what to do. even her voice has changed; the tone and timbre are not heres and she wouldn't let me hold her hand. am going to take a binch of treats in for her today and look through some old photos but then i have to go home and i know it will break my heart.

erm.... on the other side i'm meeting up with a dobro player. and there's going to be a night of ubergeekiness thursday: some girls are bigger than others. horribly trivial but seductive.


Friday, October 14, 2005

From http://www.roadblock.org.uk 

manchester is my home now and where most of my heart is but many of my sacred spaces are on the south downs.

Titnore Lane is a winding old English lane between the A27 and A259,
with it's overhanging canopy provided by mature oak trees and
believed to have once been a droveway with origins in pre-history.
Soon all that history, charm and much biodiversity will be lost if
the road builders get their way.

See http://www.protectourwoodland.fsnet.co.uk and
http://www.scar-uk.fsnet.co.uk for further info


i wish i were a bomb 

I did go out for a birthday drink last night but in honour of Julia, not Thatcher, surprisingly. Hooray for the gorgeous ginger marble, my favourite beer in the world, now on draught in the Sandbar.

In the interests of balance I shall reproduce what adam said about Tuesday's gig.

To be honest, I didn't like it very much because he (Chris Mills) kept smiling and he has a funny smile and they sounded like coldplay only happier. And the audience! Where did they come from? They were all really loving it but noone has heard of this guy and I've never seen anyone like those people before. Where are they from? Is it an internet thing? It was like Al-Qaeda The audience were like Al-Qaeda with beards. No, not with beards. With shirts. Al-Qaeda with shirts and bald patches.

np: one colleague is singing the new magic numbers single, another is going for how much is that doggie in the window. oh joy


Thursday, October 13, 2005

i'm lovin' it 

i spotted this supersized celebration on what feels like several million flyers all round town. I won't be partaking, although the clown in me would love to get mchappy...hope it's a blast.

14th- 16th october is mc d-day!!!

friday 14th october: 6pm an amazing critical mass..bring bikes..friends..music..drink..dress up..flags and banners..ronald costumes..
and whatever else you can think of to make it truly amazing... it will be ending in a bit of a knees up and a notdonalds burger cafe for all the cyclistas at a secret velorution location where we can all chill out afterwards and watch cool bike films and drool over beautiful bikes..

saturday 15th october: day of mischief against mc donalds.. to get
involved phone 07717645051 or email mcd_day@yahoo.co.uk

sunday 16th october: film screening at The Dancehouse, Oxford Rd, manchester 7.30 FREE


grim, grey, miserable 

John Peel day. Hmmmmm. Yes, he was a genius but summat feels very wrong with the whole concept of a tribute day; a lot of band wagon jumping and sick cashing in. there’s a horrible inevitability that badly drawn boy is headlining the main manc contribution. Nostalgia is a cancer strangling pop. There’s an interesting piece by Andy Kershaw which makes me feel better about my uncharitable moaning. And of course, I can’t gig hop tonight anyway because I’ll be hobnobbing thatchers 80th birthday party



The best thing about psychogeography is of course that it enables me to pretend my love of aimless wandering around town is an artistic and political statement.

I’m trying to break my habit of picking up interesting detritus I spy lying around, I have way too much stuff; its suffocating and will not come in useful one day. However, sometimes the urge is too strong. This week I could not resist the minature oriental toy knife, still its packet. I immediately passed it on to j the drummer who i thought would appreciate it so that hardly counts. There was also half an envelope. On one side someone has written
Knowing that curiosity killed the cat was the last point of concern. It was 30 months ago

On the other it says
There is no problem with any of it. I am long past the point where there are esoteric consequences present

I also had a random encounter with crazyness; it was more amusing than disturbing but nimby that i am i wish it hadn't happened on my street. It was Sunday afternoon, sunny and quiet, i was on my way to the cinema and a slightly shifty looking geezer in trackie bottoms shuffles up to me

him: excuse me, do you know where there's a toilet i can use?
me: the pub on the corner
him: where's that then?
me: (trying not to engage too much but not wanting to be rude) over there (i point, even though its clearly visible and he just walked past it)
him: will they let me in?
me: yes, i'm sure they will.

i start to walk away purposefully and then he sidles up to me so i aim to cross the road and he taps my arm and says "it's all very embarrassing this, very embarrassing, you see i'm wearing a nappy and plastic pants"

he drops his trousers to show me. I take maries advice and instead of telling him to f off i keep a staright face and dignified silence as i cross the road to get away. I watch him in my peripheral vision as he heads over to the pub where he ignores the path, clambours over the wall and appears to start crawling around

np: the gentle clank of a broken light.


street walking 

I woke up in an armchair yesterday morning with trouble by the have-nots on a loop in my head to be greeted by marie wagging her finger at me sternly and wailing ‘I am *incredibly* cross with you’ Befuddlement reigned for a few moments; yes there was whiskey and beer and good times and GREAT music but what had I done/not done/ let someone else do? Reassuringly my heart felt light and my head clear, I couldn’t recall being a twat (well, no more than normal) and certainly hadn’t been drunk enough for a memory hole. Hell, I didn’t even attempt to climb onto the roof….

After everyone moved on (as they always do: bands will use and abuse you and break your heart) I met up with alex aka bored in the city to plot some more psychogeogragphical shenanigans. I first met alex when I was wielding a megaphone at a free market and he was trying to get urbis to take his zine. I like him because in a culture that celebrates stupidity he takes palpable joy in intellectual pursuits and he’s always generous with his knowledge. A very interesting guy.

We’re planning an extravaganza before the winter sets in, with talks and walks and map making and fun…ideas and contributions to this welcome btw…so much potential… I was amazed at the mayday derive, lots of people I’ve never seen before and we ended up getting a tour of a derelict warehouse being transformed into a television studio…a fascinating day brimming over with glorious synergy and coincidence

However, I still struggle with the word ‘psychogeography’ It’s a pretentious sounding label for a concept that encompasses lots of my favourite things. I made some flyers for a couple of events we did and in the end I had to draw a wonky venn diagram to try and represent. It’s got 6 circles, labeled map making, de/regeneration, serendipity, social history, situationism and art. A big arrow points to the intersection of them all and says psychogeography is here (sort of)

The text reads: Where is psychogeography? I dunno. There’s loads of academic stuff around, but to me it’s a beautiful, chaotic, ambiguous place, like the city we live in…it’s listening to cracks in the pavement, reclaiming our streed, creating spectacles, hunting ghosts, finding magick in the mancunian rain and discovering hidden views and new ways of feeling… if you stumble onto one of our expeditions – and you’d be very welcome - everyone will give you different directions, not to confuse you but because we are all making our own way. We are not a group but you can find out what we’re up to or discuss ideas by emailing us or getting info from the basement

Alex gave me some maps and tales of map making (mmmmmmmm) which he found at the seductive looking British Library website www.collectbritain.co.uk
(I’m aware of an irony here – I love maps but Monday night I got a lift back from leeds and we ended up in stockport; the latest in a lifelong series of me getting lost. I also have a terrible habit of giving direction which include the line ‘no, the *other* left)

Probably my favourite psychogeography resource is the maps archive: they were active in Manchester for a few years and the levitation of the corn exchange in tribute to john dee was a total work of genius

“After several minutes of concerted effort, a colleague begged leave to point out that with the Corn Exchange being so crowded any prolonged levitation could prove injurious to the health of the people trapped inside. Electrical faults and falling masonry were also taken into consideration. It was noted that staff inside the corner fish and chip shop were beginning to panic. A vote was taken and in the interest of safety the levitation was halted” http://www.map.twentythree.us/


zine symposium: shout out for collaborators 

me and morag have this idea for a day of zines and acoustic music
at the Basement social centre sometime in January. the idea so far
included having zine authors give readings from their zines,
workshops on zine writing, and tons and tons of zines for people to
buy or just pick up and read... plus raise some money to improve
access to the social centre.

if this sounds interesting to you come to a meeting at the Basement
at 6pm Wednesday Oct 19 to share ideas and make plans.

please forward this to people/lists that might be interested.



Monday, October 10, 2005

the hang was tip top 

I believe this is hip young American speak for ‘I had a very nice time, thank you’ and it must be said I have had a splendid week. The uncontested highlight is sure to become a legendary moment in manchester’s musical history*, yep, the first ever instore at Big Pink

The Havenots are, quite simply, gorgeous. Lovely melodies and a wistfulness that sends me to a mythical summer meadow full of yearning. Chris Mills and band were awesome; his last manc show was an acoustic solo set of heart wrenching beauty that moved me to tears; on Saturday it was all caffeine fuelled fun and pure power pop joy...hooray for scissor kicks...yeah, his vocals were a little poorly but context is all and it was simply awesome.

Mills puts so much soul into his shows that he was reduced to communicating by paper, pen and erm whistling and interpretive mime for the rest of the weekend, but clearly the man is some kind of performance autobot and conserving volume pays dividends: flick a switch, turn the spotlight and kaboom! A musical treat is guaranteed.

The show is touring now and I heartily implore you to go see them. I’m off to leeds tonight and it’s the star and garter tomorrow.(actually got to catch a train in about 30 mins, hence the mad rush and poor grammar of this surreptitious at desk post)

*hmmm. Manc musical heritage….the free trade hall is a hotel, the hacienda is yuppie flats and there’s a smiths musical appearing at the lowry…


Thursday, October 06, 2005

i nearly made it 

but of course i have to say something. The real tragedy of live8 was all that talk about the bloody classic pink floyd reunion. bollocks. becuase the bombastic nonsense they've been inflicting on us for years has none of the charm and intensity and warped genius of the lifechanging music syd barrett made.


shamelessly stolen from simon hb 

who is one of the finest writers about music I can think of. No rock and roll fun is a total joy and has been especially insightful about the hypocrisy and egos surrounding live 8.

You can play catch up on that thread here (I can't imagine who the undercover pop spy in edinburgh was) but i find it a delightful daily treat.


Oh, sure, it might not have actually made any difference at all to the starving or dying of the world, but - hey - Live 8 did put an end to Pink Floyd's intra-band hostility:

[Roger Waters] says, "It was a great weight off my back to have a rapprochement with the three guys after all the enmity.

"Constantly, in my work, I am exhorting people to let go of entrenched positions, and that could be seen as hypocritical in view of the fact that, for all those years, I held an entrenched position in terms of the history and internal politics of Pink Floyd.

"If (Live 8) is the only time we play together for the rest of our lives, I will reap the benefits of those few days for the rest of my life."

A dying child in Niger issued a statement welcoming Water's comments:

"I am delighted to hear that the painful deaths and almost unimaginable suffering of millions of people like me have not been in vain and the many decades of western banks raping the economies of so many nations has played a small part in bringing about this joyous event. My role was only a small one in bringing this band back together, and ending their argument over whatever it was, and of course, I wouldn't want to take any of the glory away from Bob and Bono without whom our suffering might not have been turned into a tool to make multimillionaires a little more relaxed when they sleep in their soft, comfy beds at night, with full bellies and dry bedding"


dragon manchester october news 

Dragon matters to me because i believe change has to happen on many different levels and spiritual transformation is as valid as smashing up a macdonalds, and probably a more powerful force for change.

I'll doubtless return to this subject but for now here is our latest news update


The last Dragon meeting was small but inspiring and we decided we’d
like to get outside and do something practical to celebrate the glorious
autumn colours

We will be meeting at 2.30 on Sunday 17 October at the Platt Lane
entrance to Platt Fields Park.

This was identified as somewhere special in the city that needs a bit
of loving attention. The plan is to tidy a patch of the park – please
bring gloves, bin bags, appropriate plants etc – and then those that wish can
also do some healing work. Doubtless we will retire for refreshments

Email me for the contact number in case of terrible weather or if you can’t find us

The next elemental workshop is penciled in for 7pm November 15th at The
Basement, more details to follow. The topic is fire so perhaps we
should go outside for that too? Any suggestions welcome…. I’m also attaching
details of an interesting lecture series on Mysticism and Transpersonal
Psychology at MMU

Please pass this email on to anyone else who may be interested and
accept my apologies (and let me know) if you’ve received it in error. For more
information on Dragon and eco-magic see www.dragonnetwork.org

Love and peace
Morag x


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

invisible zines #2 

my worst job

The phone line was based in an office block on the outskirts of Leeds; next to the motorway and I never did work out what went on in the rest of the building. My supervisor was evangelical about the job: so much fun, such easy money and I’ll admit I imagined it’d be a cinch.

All I had to do was keep paying punters on the line without admitting I was getting paid to be their friend. . I mean it wasn’t a job I was proud of taking, but I was a student and skint. Talking nonsense has never been a struggle for me, and there was no nasty uniform to wear so it sounded pretty good to me.

Over zealous colleagues should always ring an alarm bell, I realise that now. That were 5 of us who joined at the same time; only two of us ever started paid employment. The first thing we had to do was assume a new identity; we needed a new name for security reasons and a fictional location because not everyone could come from the same town. I remember I chose Brighton because it had to be somewhere you could talk about convincingly if necessary.

Strangely I can’t remember what my alias was; somehow I find that quite disturbing because it was such a big deal at the time. It makes me fear what else I have forgotten. You had to use your adopted name at all times; it was strictly forbidden to reveal your real name to anyone, including the other workers. I found that slightly creepy, not having a clue who anyone really was because somehow names do matter. I was made to feel slightly guilty for the small talk I’d made with the other new starters; of course I’d introduced myself and asked them who they were; now we all had to erase our memories.

Training consisted of repeating two mantras: Never use your real name and this is a chatline, not a sexline but the line seemed pretty blurry to me.

We were all supposed to flirt like crazy and seduce the callers into staying on line by any means necessary; the supervisor said we could, and should, say anything except we were ‘sticking x in y’ or ‘touching hairy parts’ This required a different license apparently. At the same time we were encouraged to tell callers what underwear we were wearing and to make very poor carry on style innuendos. I guess we were the teleporn equivalent of loaded; a guilty little secret for people too scared to reach for the top shelf.

Apart from the two commandments, training entailed learning how to use the phones and the not-quite-live chat relay system; You said something then hit the number for the line you were saying it too; they could retrieve it when they had finished talking to whoever else they were in conversation with; this got slightly confusing on occasion, I was pretty good at forgetting who I was wittering onto about what but I usually found a flirtly little giggle or an admiring sigh got me out of most things. Induction took less than an hour and then we were working

I was surprised by the number of calls we got; just how many people wanted
Three types of callers. The first were the inevitable leery men; mostly they sounded middle aged, middle england, small minded. They wanted flattery and flirting; I pretended to be impressed by a lot of swish cars and flashy job titles; I often wondered how truthful they were being and if they really believed I was as prefect as I sounded. I quite enjoyed creating a whole new persona based on the not so subtle clues they passed on about what they wanted me to be.

When I think about it now I feel nauseous about this but at the time I figured if they are stupid enough to call they deserve exploiting. Perhaps my karmic payback for my complicity in this sick game is my total inability to flirt in the real world.

The second type of caller were the most fun and the ones I never felt guilty about; they were people calling from offices to waste a bit of time and company money. They wanted to exchange the kind of mildly amusing trivia you hear down the pub; judging by the kids tv they remembered most were in their twenties and thirties. Once I asked a guy why he risked his job for they sake of a few crap jokes about pot noodles; I assumed his office had a pretty severe netnanny. I never heard his answer; my call was terminated and a voice on the line gave me a bollocking for sounding like a worker instead of an ordinary bloke.

The third kind of callers were the ones that really disturbed me and that I hated talking to. They didn’t have much in common with each other except they were clearly desperately lonely and needed to talk to someone.

The person I remember most was a young woman with a baby I could hear crying in the background. She told me she lived in a flat in Glasgow and her mum couldn’t forgive her for having a baby and all her friends were doing their gcses and couldn’t be doing with her an more. The baby wouldn’t shut up and how could she stop it and what was she meant to do when it screaming was driving her mad and she couldn’t sleep and did I know what happened in Coronation Street tonight because the bloody baby kept throwing up and she just didn’t know what to do. I was crying too by the time she hung up.

I was told people like this would phone almost every night and often bond with a particular person, so if you got on well with them sometimes you’d have to pretend not to be there or it might look suspicious – this also gave someone else a chance to chat to them so hopefully they would start forming a ‘friendship’ with them too. After a couple of months this needy soul would vanish because their phone had been cut off. I hated that we were supposed to string them along and I’ll admit I did my best to surrepticously tell them to find help. This was hard to do but I’d suggest a book or talk about a friend who had been through something similar and called the Samaritans; something like that. I often got criticised by my boss for being too nice but this making money out of loneliness really got me down.

I wish I could say I left for ethical reasons but actually my resignation was far more pragmatic. I got put on an 11pm-4am shift; for obvious reasons post pub and club hours were always the busiest. There were no buses home at that time and we weren’t allowed to call taxis to the office; the location had to be kept secret at all costs but even if it didn’t the cab fare home would have cost too much. I didn’t fancy walking 4 miles home on my own every night so I quit.


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