September 7th, 2003


Drunk in public

Went to see The LevellersDrunk in Public (Mark, Simon and Jon of the Levellers, plus Rev Hammer) last night at the Boat Race. Every other time I've seen the Levellers it's been in big venues, and I've barely been able to get near enough to the band to be quite sure that it wasn't just a bunch of scruffy sock-puppets on stage (though if it was, somebody would notice the difference ... right?) This time I was close enough to balance my overpriced pint on the edge of the stage, to join in the mostly good-natured heckling, to cadge half a cigarette from Rev Hammer, and finally to shake Jon-the-fiddler's hand as the band left the stage for the last time.

The gig was excellent: a long set, and chock-full of old favourites. It was certainly interesting to hear the band in acoustic mode -- they've always had a folk-rock style, but with Jon's fiddle and Simon's mandolin coming through clearly, the emphasis was firmly on the 'folk'. Slower songs like "Julie" and "Another Man's Cause" gained intensity from the intimate venue and cut-down lineup, and if the faster and more furious songs like "Riverflow", "Dirty Davey" and "Fifteen Years" lost any power it was more than compensated for by the audience, shouting along as though their lives depended on it. There were times when it seemed that the venue was perhaps a little too intimate, as the heckling threatened to get out of hand (Simon and Jon did eventually comply with the shouts of "get your shirt off!", though I suspect this was more to do with the stifling heat of the venue...), but the feeling of a real interaction between band and audience always makes for a more highly-charged atmosphere and a more energetic performance, and this was no exception.

I'm afraid the spectacle of so many hands and voices raised in perfectly conforming unison at the words "There's only one way of life and that's your own" never fails to amuse me, much though I love the song; but there was something much more moving about hearing the lyrics "the words that you heard when you were young will always stay, the ones that always stay make the world go away" (from "The Road") -- and realising that those words have stayed in the back of my mind since my teenage self was first knocked sideways by Levelling the Land back in the early 90s, and that this was a band who still had the power to "make the world go away" for me (and countless others, if the audience's reactions were anything to go by), even if only "for a moment".

This was also my first encounter with the Boat Race as a venue. So, the verdict: it's cramped, smoky, dark and dingy, and the acoustics aren't great. In other words, it's exactly what the discerning indie kid wants. :-) My only real gripe was the beer -- okay, so the eminently drinkable Milton Pegasus came on halfway through the evening (at the very reasonable price of £2.20 a pint), but only after I'd already shelled out for two pints of watery Guinness at a much less reasonable £2.70 a pint.


All in all, a good evening. It was a shame hoiho couldn't be there, particularly since I wouldn't even have known about the gig if he hadn't passed on the information from Mary Pegg (who was there, of course, conspicuous in the ever-present hat); but it would have been a bit far to come from Scotland for a gig. I hope sion_a enjoyed the evening, despite getting angry about idiots in the audience (and getting frustrated about not being able to pogo in time with other people!); and it was a nice surprise to see davefish and keris there.

Sorry again to marnameow for not making it to the party, but to be honest I think bouncing up and down in the dark (and getting back in touch with my inner teenager) for a couple of hours was probably just what I needed; I feel tired now, still a bit shaky, but a lot more together than I did a couple of days ago. Almost ready to face the coming week.
  • Current Music
    Rev Hammer: The Green Fool Recordings

I will never say the word 'procrastinate' again

I'm supposed to be writing job applications, but the application form is appalling. For a start, the job description for two supposedly different positions are identical, so I'm just going to have to apply for both and let them decide which (if either) they think I'm best suited to. Other than that -- well, I suppose the typos are forgivable, although "You should note that each of the questions is equally important thought into each of them" made me laugh; but that's not the end of it. In addition to the usual "please cram everything you have done in the last 10 years into our badly-formatted table" sections, there are four questions where you have to demonstrate your competence in the following areas:

  • Delivering to customers
  • Working Together
  • Planning and organising
  • Communicating with customers and others

For each of these, you have to give just one example of a thing you've done which demonstrates competence in the relevant area; each answer has to be no more than 250 words long. The example answer they give, demonstrating competence in the area of What I Did On My HolidaysWorking Together, is excruciating: Collapse ) After 11 years of trying (with, I like to think, some success) to develop beyond that kind of simple (not to say simplistic) narrative style, I'm finding it difficult to go back to it, particularly in a context where I'd normally write in a more formal register.

Anyway, it's taken me the best part of an hour to do one of them, and about 40 minutes of that was spent trying to hack it down to the word-limit while still actually explaining the (fairly technical) examples from my current job so that they make sense. The whole thing is irritating me so much that I'm not even sure I want to work for these people anyway, if the application process is representative of their general competence; but I can't help feeling that beggars can't be choosers. (Okay, so I'm not a beggar yet, but my current job is hardly secure, and besides, it's slowly sapping my will to live.) Still trying to buckle down to doing it but my motivation seems to be at an all-time low.

* * *

The only positive thing to come out of this so far, in fact, is the result of extreme procrastination -- which has led me to rip a handful more CDs (though I'm not doing anything like the wholesale process that simont has been indulging in), and to create a couple of rather cute Miffy pictures. Collapse )

I should do more of this kind of thing, it's remarkably therapeutic. (I would have made goth peg-dollies but I didn't have any pipe-cleaners for their arms. I think a trip to Heffers Art Shop is indicated.)
  • Current Music
    Richard Thompson: Old Kit Bag

A friend with breasts and all the rest

Okay, this is especially for bopeepsheep and k425, who wanted to see a breast-feeding Miffy. She's just been breast-feeding Miffy Jr., okay? -- this is the best I can do at short notice.

You think this is bad? No prizes for guessing who wants me to write them some Miffy slash... (Sick, sick, sick, or something.)
  • Current Music
    Juliet Turner: Burn the Black Suit