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Friday, June 30, 2000

Shouting Epitaph Every Few Minutes

Strange Dreams. . .

I am in a large hall / gallery with a brightly sprung wooden floor. I am standing in a large circle made out of chalk, salt, sugar and soil. Inside the circle there are small shards of torn sheets of music scattered randomly in all directions. I stand with a double bass playing the fragments. Children (not mine) run in and out of the circle spreading the chalk and soil across the manuscript obscuring the notes but creating new ones. It seems to make sense I and seem to be now playing an altered, nebulous music which echoes darkly through the big hall.

I woke with some of the music in my head and the imagery of the dream was very powerful. It also struck me as a potential performance art piece and one I’d love to perform. Two small problems; one is I don’t have a double bass and secondly I don’t read music. Still, why let small details like that get in the way of a good idea. I wonder how much a double bass would cost ?

The boys and I sleep in this morning and we have to dash around like maniacs. In the end we dash around so much that we catch up with ourselves doing what normally takes nearly a full hour in around fifteen minutes flat. How much time do we lose by maintaining wasteful habitual routines ? I know I am very wasteful in this respect but I do find much of this time as a means of grounding myself and working out what the day’s tasks are and how much of it will be realised.

On the bus the boys discuss the merits of various Pokemon characters and I ponder on the joys that await a local government officer in the service of the arts.

At the moment, a lot of the chores and requirements feel very onerous and although I know this, like the other times before it, is just part of the cycle of ups and down which anyone experiences.

A dull morning problem solving and then onto Newcastle for a meeting with a major funding partner. The good news is that they are interested in signing a contract with us for a three year period which will enable a whole raft of activities to take place.

This hasn’t come about by accident but is the product of a sequence of careful and patient negotiations by a talented and experienced team. I feel good about being a player but I also feel slightly dislocated from the over-arching bureaucracy within which I operate.

Later this afternoon, I talk to Jamie Muir about one of his paintings which I think would look wonderful as a potential cover for the KC book. Turns out he threw it away a while back but does have a copy of it on transparency. It’s one of those featured in the Marquee magazine Jamie sent me up a couple of days ago. In principal Jamie is interested in giving permission but I want to try the image out with some chums such as the great Kimbrini of leafy Highgate.

Speaking of which, I make the trek down to London tomorrow in the run-up to seeing King Crimson at Shepherd’s Bush on Monday. It’ll be an opportunity to catch up with Kimbo and his recent Blue outbursts. I’m not talking about his blasphemous and scatological musings but his current paintings. There’s always something exciting about yakking away creative processes and how different people respond and react to the call.

If you’re coming to the gig, I’ll be the fat blokey in the big hat, standing / sitting right in front of you, talking loudly all the way through the gig, taking pictures and shouting Epitaph every few minutes. Be sure to say hello.

Thursday, June 29, 2000

Strange Dreams

And the good news today is that Debbie has been offered a new job !

It’s at a school with much better resources than the one where she currently teaches. The school is in an area over-looking the banks of the Tyne River and though it may be picturesque in a post-industrial kind of way, it has more than its fair share of social deprivation and disadvantage.

We are intending to have a big celebration tomorrow night with all the kids. Assuming it’s going to be hot and sunny (which I’m sure it will be), we’ll be having an inaugural Barbecue. Yes we’ve joined the ranks of week-end sizzlers !

06.25 a.m.

Today’s painting
A line of brilliant white running the length of the horizon etched into a flat grey surface.

Strange dreams. . .

an ex-girlfriend who was showing me a really new small laptop and it was singing like a space age musical box when she opened it. We were in the room I used to rent in South Gosforth sometime in the mid seventies (I didn’t know her at that time). At some point there was a feeling of some kind of shared intimacy – not sex. More conspiratorial somehow.

Then the whole thing morph’s to where I’m on a boat or at least surrounded by water. The surface is decked as though it was a pier. There’s the sound of bird song and the sun is really strong. I can hear rough waves but the water around me is calm and slowly undulating. A telephone rings and rings but we can’t find it. We burst into laughter.

There’s a load more but as I write this stuff it sounds very contrived and self-consciously symbolic.

An envelope from Jamie Muir arrived in the post today containing a very fine Japanese magazine called Marquee. It features a picture of a dapper RF on the cover and on the inside has some splendidly produced photo’s of Jamie Muir and some of his paintings. The interview with Jamie looks like it might be good but I don’t read any Japanese. Are there any readers of this diary who have a translation.

A couple of months ago Mark Pearman had sent me scan of Jamie holding up one of his drawings but it’s interesting to see a few of the others in their original context.

Also in the post today was an invitation to have dinner with the artist Tom Phillips (he did the cover of SABB) in Camberwell on Monday afternoon. The purpose of the lunch is to record Tom’s commentary on the 12 postcard catalogue we recently produced.

This in turn will be used for a video we are producing to accompany future TP exhibitions and also to promote our own stock of wonderfully produced TP postcards. Anyone interested in purchasing a set just drop me an e-mail. (They have nothing whatsoever to do with KC by the way).

I’ll be going straight from the interview and lunch with TP over to Shepherd’s Bush Empire to take my place in the queue (no doubt more than a few folk behind Trevor Lever) for the show by KC on Monday.

Heard from the publisher today and it looks like we’re going to do the decent thing and get hitched for better or for worse.

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Digging up a hole and then filling it back in

22.16 p.m.

In at 9.30 p.m. feeling totally knackered and pissed off. The day job has many joys and triumphs but it brings with it a fair share of tedium and downright stupidity. Right now I’m doing the intellectual equivalent of digging up a hole and then filling it back in.

The exercise is flawed , pointless and time consuming BUT I am required to do it. I wouldn't mind if it was going to lead to an improvement in the service we are able to offer but it won’t.

How did a day that began so beautifully get to turn so sour ?

I look at the book and decide that tonight would not be a good time to work on the thing. Feeling resentful, angry and – blah blah blah. . .

Three paintings

06.25 a.m.

A thick precise band of bright lemon yellow sits above a shifting bed of blue-grey sea. Quite stunning. Above the yellow light, grey gradually turning completely white.

07.15 a.m.

The bright lemon has dissipated and strands of gold and amber now break off in smouldering rivulets, tingeing the heavy grey cloud where it touches. The sea underneath is dark grey.

07.45 a.m.

A drab blanket of slate grey runs down to the horizon to be met with a smudge of sulphurous, smoky white. Somewhere inside the featureless white, a burnished ochre faintly glimmers. Flat grey sea flecked with dark streaks.

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Talking to Steve Hackett

Brilliant sunshine pours down today. Bird song, the poppies in the garden are flowering and the bees have trundled into view. In the back lane six cats patiently sit and watch me lug out several black bin bags. One ginger tom nonchalantly licks a paw as though in preparation for the impending shredding and subsequent feast once I clear off.

As my bus went by Cullercoats harbour this morning, the sea was rough and completely silver. A party of bubbly school kids were getting lectured by their teachers as we went passed. On Tynemouth long sands dogs bounded along, pausing only to defecate and bark at low-pecking gulls. After that it was all down hill as I entered the very bowels of the machinery that powers the local democratic dynamo aka the town hall.

Several stultifying hours later I emerge mole-like, bedazzled by the sunlight and the smell of Summer. Back home I find a couple of messages on the answer-machine. One from a school telling Debbie she’s been short-listed for a job interview and the other from Mark Charig telling me he’s up for doing an interview.

Heard from David Cunningham last night and today via e-mail. I wanted to speak to David regarding the making of Ghost Dance which also featured Muir and Giles. I thought I saw DC at the Sonic Boom opening bash at the Hayward a few weeks ago but wasn’t sure and thus held back on the Fat- Drunk-Geordie- Bastard-Bellowing-In-Your-Ear routine of which I’m so fond.

Turns out it was him after all. So by way of recompense David has agreed to the Fat-Sober-Geordie-Bastard-Asking-Anorak-Questions-Down-The-Phone routine instead. David was involved in The Flying Lizards who had a neat line in purveying ironic ambient pop-dubscapes back in the 80’s

Also last night spent an hour talking to Steve Hackett about his impressions of the first Crimson line-up. Clearly for Steve the effect of seeing the band in the summer of 1969 was profound and long-lasting. His commentary helps to flesh out some of the eye witness accounts which I’m trying to include on each era of Crimson.

Also in the post tonight was a farewell e-mail from Julie O’Hanlon at DGM. Julie has been a tremendous help in assisting me with research and the like and I’ll miss her snappy e-mails.

Debbie drives the music again. Joni Mitchell’s For The Roses and Dog Eat Dog. The former sounds like someone working through a deeply internal process and precise methodology. The latter sounds like someone going through the motions.

Monday, June 26, 2000

Phone Rage

A wadge of press cuttings circa 1970 dropped on the mat with a resounding thunk this morning courtesy of Peter Giles. They made for some fascinating reading. Some I’d seen before but others were new to me.

Talked to Nick Evans tonight. Evans played trombone on a couple of sessions with Crimson and he indicated he’s willing to do an interview for the book. Also left a message on Mark Charig’s answerphone.

Brief conversation with Peter Sinfield. Pete and I had scheduled tonight for another round of me asking him tedious questions along the lines of “What was your favourite curry during the recording of Lizard” and the meaning of the acronym WDIES. Sadly, Peter was feeling a bit under the weather and so we postponed the chinwag for another day.

Also incurred the wrath of the children by talking to Sean Hewitt down in Nottingham. It’s getting to the point in our house where there’s a run for the phone if someone isn’t using it straight away.

So tonight when I put the phone down on one person, in the time it’s taken me to look up the next number, some pesky teenage whippersnapper has picked up the extension downstairs and talking about the latest Playstation game or what hair slides are going to be worn tomorrow at school.

Listening tonight has been driven largely by Debbie who has insisted on liberal helpings of early Joni Mitchell and early Trex.

Sunday, June 25, 2000

Slow Motion Routine

Chris Wilson and his wife popped over for an hour or two today. Chris is graphic designer who came up with some potential ideas for a book cover a couple of months ago. He was also at the recent Keith Tippett concert. More recently he tells me he’s doing some sleeve design work for Voiceprint Records and the re-issue of Couple In Spirit II by the Tippetts.

Chris had come over to take a look at some of the photographs which I’ve accumulated and offer some advice on the possible scanning and the like. A useful (for me at least) couple of hours.

While he was here Debbie rang from Birmingham to tell me what time she was due in. After lunch the children and I trooped off into Newcastle and the Laing Art Gallery to take a scope at the stuff on show. Then it was off to Central Station for running at each other with out-stretched arms in slow motion routine.

Bizarrely, Debbie had come up from Brum with a small tree !

Talking to Jamie Muir and tonight we covered the post-Crimson era, his explorations in Tibetan Buddhism and his slow return to playing music in the 1980’s. The sad thing is that there’s more from Jamie than I could ever put in the book which is a great shame as he is a fascinating speaker. As I’ve said elsewhere, his recollection of the recording of LTIA is very good indeed and he’d even dredged up some further recollections for our discussion tonight.

Half way through the interview, my youngest son Joseph hops through and presents me with a newly dropped tooth. Never mind the Good Fairy – make way for the Tooth Fairy !

Saturday, June 24, 2000

The Custard Tart Pay-Off

Last night had a long conversation with Neil Baldwin in Hull. Putting aside the fact the Neil had just been to Denmark to see KC, he runs his own photographic business and has offered to assist in the vexed question of transferring the photographic material I’ve accrued into transparencies and the like.

We’ve agreed to meet up in a couple of weeks to take a look at what needs to happen and exactly what we’ll be looking at. This might solve some of the problems about how many illustrations can be put into the book. Additionally, the potential publisher has indicated that they are willing to help meet some of the costs of converting photo’s to transparencies.

Despite going to bed late, the boys are up and about on Saturday morning and on deep Pokemon mode. The latest craze of Oddish, Pikachu and all the rest are completely beyond me but the boys seem to know what’s going on. Their conversations are complex and are baffling to the uninitiated like myself.

We go out and do a bit of shopping in the centre of Whitley Bay. I do like the little ritual of Saturday morning shopping looking for those little things that you’d forgotten you don’t need anymore.

As a child I would be dragged out every Saturday afternoon to help my Gran with her shopping. Looking back this was as much to do with getting me out of the house for a couple of hours as much as helping my Gran. However, although I complained about having to do this chore there was always the pay-off of a custard tart at the cake shop.

So, as we wander round Whitely Bay getting things we don’t need, Tom and Joe complain unceasingly about having to leave their Pokemon games behind and enter into the real world for an hour or two. And yes, they get their modern day equivalent of the custard tart in the shape of some confection that bears any uncanny resemblance to the omnipresent Pokewhatsits.

Spent the afternoon doing a jig-saw with Alys and the boys in a brief respite from Pokemon. Only 250 pieces but quite difficult in that many of the pieces were of a forest and blue skies. Mind you the big dinosaur in the middle of it all caused a few problems as well. Early evening and little Sam from next door is staying for a sleep-over. Cursory pasta in red sauce is thrown together and then thrown at the kids.

Next stop is the phone and Ian McDonald. We were talking about the post-Crimson part of his career which including commentary on working with Trex (one of Debbie’s favourites), Centipede and Foreigner. I was somewhat embarrassed when talking to Ian as I had heard very little in the way of this band although I gather they were hugely popular.

Apart from a couple of the big hit singles, I had really no idea what Foreigner were about. Ian very courteously ignored this gaping hole in my research and we were able to move on to the story behind the making of Drivers Eyes.

After an hour and a half, Ian was pretty tired and in any event Alys had taken to picking up the phone downstairs and then pointedly cradling it with as much force and sneery vigour as a phone-deprived thirteen year old can muster.

It’s likely that we’ll end up getting a second phone line installed as the troops are revolting about the amount of time I’m spending on the dog and bone.

Friday, June 23, 2000

Beefheart & The Dandruff Exchange

Lengthy conversation last night with Peter Giles. He’s photocopied all his press clippings for me, including several items which I’d not seen before. The intention will be for me to forward them to DGM once I’ve copied them for their archives of clippings.

Also on the blower was Sean Hewitt from Nottingham. Sean has provided an enormous amount of help and personal energy in getting the book kick-started and conceptualised. Like El Kimbrini of Leafy Highgate, he’s been invaluable for bouncing ideas, theories and rants off as well.

Last night our conversation centred mostly around the work of Captain Beefheart and it’s impact. I was truly astonished to discover that most of Beefheart’s albums failed to chart according to the book Sean is reading.

One makes all sorts of assumptions about these kind of things. In the 70’s I seem to recall the press was always full of Beefheart and the various albums as they were released, were the subject of much frenzied purchasing and subsequent discussion amongst the chums down at the Dandruff Exchange. And yet they didn’t chart !

Debbie is preparing to go away to Birmingham for the week-end visiting a couple of chums. I’m planning to ignore my children all week-end and start constructing the chapters dealing with the Bournemouth music scene, GG&F and the formation of KC.

Belated thanks are due to World Leader David Symes who sent me last week-ends copy of Independent On Saturday magazine, featuring photograph’s taken on the beach here in Whitley Bay by the very fine Finish born photographer Sirkka Liisa-Konttinen. I own the book she did about twenty plus years ago on Byker and these are as good.

Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Tom is Nine

Nine years ago today, my first son Thomas was born. I picked the boys up from school and headed off into Newcastle for a surprise birthday meal with their Granny (my mother Doreen). We then headed back over to Whitely Bay for an hour or two of extreme Pokemon. At bedtime tonight, through all the excitement, Tom reflected on arriving at the grand old age of 9 and wondered if it meant he could now go to bed later. Negotiations have started.

Keith Tippett has been in touch to leave me the telephone numbers for Nick Evans and Mark Charig. Although their Crimson credentials were brief, I think their voices would be an interesting side bar in the story. Who could not be impressed by Charig’s blistering solo on the likes of Circus and Islands ? I’ll give them a bell at the week-end.

Peter Giles also rang to tell me he’s finished copying his extensive press clippings collection. It covers from around 1966 up to 1971 and there were many articles and the like which I’d not seen before.

Debbie also told me that she’d spoken to Ian McDonald who rang when I was out with the boys. Left him a message saying I’d give him a buzz tomorrow.

The answer machine also contains a hoot of a call from the great Patrick Shuleit. Missed him again. One day Patrick, one day. Patrick works for Washburn and does a neat line in developing GC picks. Oh did I mention he can really let the gas rip when he wants to ? Just hope you’re not sitting next to him in the guitar circle when he’s in a playful mood !

Tuesday, June 20, 2000

A Groovy Dauber

Yesterday was very hot indeed and after a meeting in Newcastle I was drenched in sweat. Very uncomfortable and very sticky. In the evening things improved considerably in the shape of a CDR from Voiceprint of Keith Tippett’s album Blueprint.

Rob Ayling sent me the album so I can start work on the sleevenotes for the impending re-issue. Listening back to a pristine copy, I noticed how much the crackles and scratches of my sister’s copy have become ingrained on my memory. I was hearing the clicks and bumps even though they were no longer present !

What struck me the most about the album was the complete absence of any ego-based grandstanding. There’s so much humility and intimacy in the playing that one feels slightly voyeuristic even listening to it.

Noticed some comments on the guestbook regarding the use of photos and some general comments about the book.

In respect of the nature of the book - it's still shifting and moving about a bit. The complexion and tone alters according to which part I'm working on at any given time. So over the last few days I've been shifting between Ian McDonald and Jamie Muir.

Very different era's indeed but several points where it sounds like the same person speaking. Both are very proud of their time with Crimson. Both wished they'd dealt with the pressures thrown up by KC differently. Both acknowledge that there was something "special" at work.

Accepting that Crimson is a way of doing things, then the book seems to be about some of the people who've had their lives affected by that process and how they addressed (or continue to address) those issues.

It also remains my own ear-view of things.

Cameron Devlin writes;
Thanks for the book in any case though - with or without pictures, it would seem that this book is the Bible According to Crim.

I’d prefer to think of it not so much as a Bible According to Crim Cameron but more of a parish guide really. Without wanting to sound like old speccy, it’s almost inevitable that the book wont live up to people’s expectations.

Sean Hewitt (aka Sternly Muckraker) tells me about the book on Captain Beefheart he’s currently reading;
I'm still only halfway through as there's just not been the time to catch up with any reading over the last few days. But, as I said, this strikes me as a fair comparison with what you're doing: written by an obviously genuine and knowledgeable fan, with a love of the music he has the power to convey through words. (It inspired me to buy Trout Mask Replica again on CD on Saturday so he must be doing something right!

I love it when a book can do that. For example, the current Mojo article on Bert Jansch and Davey Graham made me go and listen to a lot of stuff I haven't played for a long time. Then when I listened to it, I heard new things in the recordings because the surrounding context had been explained in the article.

Barrie Sillars and John Stevens suggested a subscription service to pay for scans. I’m not too keen on this idea as it might build people’s expectations too much. It would mean handling cash and then dealing with the almost inevitable let-down for some people who would feel they’d paid twice for the thing - "A crap book with fuzzy snaps ! What does this fat git think he’s playing at ? "

Debbie suggests that interested people might want to take out a subscription to pay parts of our telephone bill.

Terry Kalka and our very own Dan K have suggested a website linked to the book. I registered SidSmith.Com a while back for this very purpose. It could well house un-used photo’s and full interview transcriptions subject to the relevant permissions and so on being obtained.

There’s still the question of getting someone to put a website together as this kind of thing is beyond me. And then there’s the cost of maintaining it.

Speaking of which, John Kimber of leafy Highgate tells me that his on-line gallery is taking shape. I’ll check out with the great Akimbo about putting a link up. He’s a groovy dauber and no mistake.

Sunday, June 18, 2000

Little Rituals

5.52 a.m.

After getting up for a pee, I find that I am unable to get back to sleep. So after an interminable twenty minutes of tossing and turning and generally waking up Debbie, I accept the inevitable and get up.

I actually don’t mind getting up early. From where I sit, I can see the sun breaking through a bank of heavy grey-blue cloud. I’d left the window open from last night and the room is filled with the smell of the sea (and more specifically)seaweed. Added to which I can hear the occasional thump of some heavy breakers on the promenade wall. All of which goes to make for a near perfect start to the day.

Checking my e-mail, I find a post from arch-Hellboy Tom Redmond. I met Tom on a level one course in Seattle a couple of years ago where his approach to life was nothing short of inspirational. Tom’s posts always make me laugh and I am a frequent visitor to his diary on the Guitar Craft web site.

Tom basically tells me that The Hellboys (of which I am an occasional member) are doing a gig in New Jersey in September and that I should stop dithering and get my lardy butt out there.

Also in the post this a.m. a couple of shots from Sean Hewitt regarding Dave Gregory and his work with Peter Gabriel and a couple of anecdotes to boot.

Annoyed to find that my taping of the Apollo Saxophone quartet’s performance on Radio Three on Sunday night had stopped abruptly before they had played Andrew Keeling’s composition Wrestling With Angels.

This morning I go to the local hospital with Tom to get his finger looked at, following the celebrated removal of his finger tip a couple of weeks ago. As we talked last night, Tom is quite calm about it although I suspect when they start removing the dressings and so on, it’ll be a different case. Therefore an arsenal of distractions will be carried along, including the new Harry Potter novel.

When I picked the kids up from school last night, I noticed several pupils wandering around with it tucked under their arm – a status symbol almost.

Little rituals. . . the gentle purr of Radio Four’s Today programme

Various Crims Wearing Incriminating Trousers

9.00 a.m.

Last night at around midnight Debbie and I stood in the garden enjoying the warm balmy air. A thin smear of light orange hovered near the horizon melding into the blue black. In the distance the sound of whistles, shouting and football chants.

This morning the boys burst into the bedroom with a couple of father’s day cards and a present of a lemonade flavour Crunchie. It doesn’t get any better than this. Also received a CD containing Arvo Part’s Symphony No.1 and a couple of other pieces circa early sixties.

We get up and do the breakfast thing. The boys wolf down large bowls of Special K and I opt for the Cinnamon bagel. Standing in the backyard watering the shrub tubs, the heat at this time morning is quite astonishing.The sky is a featureless white although no clouds seem to be visible.

The reason for the football chanting and noise which we heard last night was revealed this morning on the radio. England played Germany in a football match and won by one goal. This is usually an excuse for violence on a large scale and sure enough the news tells the sorry tale of thousands of "fans" on the rampage in Belgium. It’s strange the kinds of things that give sections of society permission to slip away from social conventions such as respect for people and property.

E-mail last night from potential publisher. Currently the fly in the ointment is over the bit of the contract that says the author will bear all the cost of getting photo’s into a format suitable for publication.

This means that apart from the front cover (which the publisher will pay for) I pay for the scan or transparency of every illustration which will feature in the book.

I wouldn’t be too bothered about this other than the fact that several ex-Crims have given me shedloads of fascinating material. These include shots of the Giles Brother’s in Bournemouth bands resplendent in quiff’s and silver showband shirts, out-takes from Bill Smith’s archive of The Great Deceiver and The Essential King Crimson, boxsets, the out-takes of the cover shoot of McD & G album and the numerous and private snapshots of various ex-Crims in incriminating trousers. All, I think you’ll agree vital stuff.

So what I need to work out is the cheapest way to do this and then make a choice about what I think would be the most interesting of the lot. Are there any readers of this diary who would like to let me know what kind of illustrations they'd be most interested in seeing ? The other version is not to bother with any photographs at all and that way costs are kept to a minimum. All feedback is gratefully received.

Friday, June 16, 2000

Back to the transcript

20.41

A lovely evening. Large picnic feast with all the children, Debbie and my mother and then into the back yard to paint over some boards as part of their road to becoming modern art masterpieces.

At one point Joe declares resulting tracks and pitted ruts to be like one of the pictures in the book upstairs. My mother asks him which one and so he runs off and comes back with Phaidon’s The Art Book and points to a portrait by Frank Auerbach. By golly - the boy’s a genius.

Earlier in the day Patrick Shuleit rang and left a message on our new answerphone leaving me a cheer-up message and a promise to call back. Patrick is somewhere out in the States and I don’t have his number. So, if you're reading this Patrick, I look forward to hearing from you next week.

Tonight Debbie is out with her chums and I’m back to the transcript to nail the McDonald interview.

Made contact with Charlotte Bates last night and we are going to set up a time for a short interview. Although not directly connected to King Crimson, Charlotte was Ian McDonald’s partner when they shared a flat with Peter Sinfield and Stephanie Ruben. Charlotte can be seen with Ian on the front cover of McD&G and was the subject of at least two songs off that album.

Spent most of last night transcribing relevant sections from the first interview with Ian McDonald, slotting quotes into boxes marked
21CSM
ITTTW
Trees
and so on.

When this is combined and cross-referenced with commentary from Peter and Michael Giles, Peter Sinfield etc., the chapters on GG&F, Court and Poseidon should be pretty definitive.

Today the weather manages to be both sunny and grey depending on which part of the sky you look at. Sums up my mood this morning. Urgh…

Wednesday, June 14, 2000

The grind

07.30

Grey morning with rain.

Spent part of last night sifting through the hours of tape I’ve accrued over the last couple of weeks. Up at six this morning to get a couple of hours further sifting in before going to work.

An e-mail last night from Toby Howard (Elephant Talk moderator) who tells me of a recent post on ET which highlights a new book on King Crimson. The book was published in Spain in 1999 and is, err, in Spanish. The ET contributor is slowly working his way through the publication with the aid of a Spanish/English dictionary.

I’d be interested in seeing the book myself so if any reader of these pages has a copy please get in touch. On the subject of King Crimson books, Ian McDonald mentioned to me that Bill Murphy has been trying (without success) to get in touch with me.

He was you will recall, putting a book on KC together a couple of years ago and some of the correspondence from RF to BM is reproduced at the back of the Epitaph booklet.

So Bill if you’re reading this please get in touch.

Right that’s all the public service announcements over with. Back to the grind.

Tuesday, June 13, 2000

The contract is in the post

07.48

Glorious sun this morning filled the house despite the battering winds which we are experiencing.

Last night Ian McDonald rang and we chatted for the best part of two hours. We looked into subjects such as the background events that led to the writing and crediting of Cat Food, the vicarious joys of being a mellotronist and some of the tips and tricks which Ian employed in the studio.

We went on to discuss the circumstances which led to the writing of Suite In C from McD&G and finished up around the Red sessions.

Ian has also agreed to let me access some of his own personal archive of photographs from 1969 - 1970.

I’ve received a contract from a potential publisher and at a cursory glance it seems as good as it gets. I’ve a chum who is a legal beaver who tells me that it all looks quite standard which means that after a couple of points of clarification, I’ll probably sign on the dotted line and get the project on a legal footing.

Sunday, June 11, 2000

The Talking Muir

The newly mown and edged garden looked lovely today in the morning sun. After breakfast I tried to persuade the children to play in the street but they weren’t up for it at all and couldn’t be prized off the TV in the front room downstairs.

For some reasons pancakes were the choice of the kids today and so I spent an hour in the kitchen making up the gloopy mixture and demonstrating the art of dropping a half formed pancake on the floor much to the delight and horror of the assembled throng.

Talking most of the day with Jamie Muir. I have a special affection for the LTIA era Crimson largely because of having seen Jamie on stage in December 1972. We dealt in great detail with his time at art school in Edinburgh and his involvement with Jazz groups around the early sixties. This led onto his move toward experimentation, taking up of percussion and his love of collective improvisation as a way of making music.

Jamie then provided a fascinating insight into the world of the London-based free music scene and only after one and half hours did we stray onto Crimson. We then covered the LTIA & Bremen Beat Club and Jamie was able to give a wonderful account of the recording of LTIA on a blow by blow basis - providing on or two priceless bits of trivia along the way.

Jamie also talked for the first time about his reasons for leaving Crimson as suddenly as he did. One reason for wanting to take part in the book is a way of putting the record straight and correcting some of the many stories which have circulated over the years about his departure.

We’ve arranged to talk next week so we can cover his post-Crimson activities and his work as a painter.

This evening I talked to Ian McDonald and we were able to continue our discussions about the first Crimson album and the tour that saw McDonald and Giles split away from Crimson.

We also covered the recording of McD&G as well as his views on the processes that were in motion around the recording of Poseidon. After a couple of hours we were both pretty talked out and we’ve arranged to talk further tomorrow.

Saturday, June 10, 2000

Robin Miller, Ian Wallace & Debbie's New Tatoo

Debbie came home last night with a new tattoo on the top of her right shoulder. It’s a dragon and a little too big to be discreet however it was what she wanted for her birthday and so she’s more than happy.

As we lay in bed this morning, I gazed at her newly altered shoulder uncertain whether it’s an improvement or not. I’m more than a bit partial to the neck and shoulders of a woman and tend to prefer them unadorned. I guess I’ll reserve judgement for a while yet.

Tonight she gives it the great unveiling as she’s out with a bunch of chums around Whitley Bay. Thankfully I’m staying in and off to bed early as life in the Kimber lane has been catching up with me.

Had a lovely chat today with Robin Miller who spoke with great affection about his work with Crimson and the appearance he made on Peter Sinfield’s album Still. We also discussed his career with people like Pierre Boulez, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Elton John.

I had hoped he’d had time to listen to his old vinyl copies as a prompt but alas he discovered he’d only had Lizard. I’ve made arrangements to talk with him in a couple of weeks after he’s had a chance to track down the albums and give them a once-through.

Last night I interviewed Ian Wallace for a couple of hours about his pre-Crimson career and how he came to join the band. Much of what we covered can be found in the booklet for the Summit studio sessions.

Yet with a little prodding, Ian was able to add much colour to his observations. He remains fiercely proud of his era Crimson and resents suggestions that they were anything less than full-blooded Crimson. Ian also talked about seeing the new version of King Crimson at 12th and Porter recently and how much he enjoyed the gig commenting that he thought the band were really funky and looked like they were enjoying themselves.

Listening to;
ITCOCK by you know who
Nixon In China by John Adams
A Love Supreme by John Coltrane

Friday, June 09, 2000

Interviewing Ian McDonald

Whitley Bay

A beautiful morning. High wispy clouds and shimmering waves. It struck me last night when I got home how much I missed the sea and the cleaner air. You don’t notice it so much when you’re here all the time but when I stepped off the local train and began to walk down towards our street, the fresh smell of the sea air was wonderful.

Talked to oboe player Robin Miller who tells me he has been re-visiting his work with KC on old vinyl prior to our interview session this week-end. Also set up a date with Ian Wallace. The other KC news is that I was able to start off the interview with Ian McDonald.

The first part of the conversation was spent dealing with Ian’s youth and joining the army as a junior bandsman. From there however, we abandoned any chronological checklisting and went into associative freefall. Though I understand that this approach isn’t terribly disciplined and probably makes transcription a bugger, I much prefer leapfrogging into subjects as they occur. It feels more natural and one can instantly follow-up hunches and gut feelings.

Ian seemed more than happy with this approach and we were able to cover a tremendous amount of detail on his period with GGF and the beginnings of Crimso.

I was astonished at the amount of recall and forensic detail which Ian has about the first album. A particular highlight of the conversation was when he was seeking to expand or underline a musical point, he would stretch out a hand to his keyboard and illustrate what he was getting at. Another session planned for this week-end which will allow us to delve deeper into the recording of the first album and beyond.

After a bit of shopping in Whitley Bay, I’m going to spend the morning going through some of the tapes I’ve accumulated over the last week - Stephanie Ruben / Judy Dyble / Peter Giles / Michael Giles and of course, Ian McDonald.

Debbie reminds me that the washing needs hung out on the line and the lawn could use a trimming as well.

Thursday, June 08, 2000

The University of Upper Baboonsass

Leafy Highgate

Debbie rang me this morning on her way to work. I’m missing her dreadfully having been away for a week. Although we met up briefly for her birthday at the week-end, it’s not quite enough to keep the soul together. I also spoke to Tom and Joe who were greatly concerned that they have been bought a substantial present since I’ve been away for so long.

Sitting in Kimber’s kitchen this morning with sun-burnt lobster red arms, scalded by the sun during yesterdays marathon session with Michael Giles.

Living with the Kimberman this last week has been crucial to the development of the structure of the book and the project as a whole. Though often the butt of many a barbed comment on these pages, Kimber’s value has been to push and prod the level of the discussion within the book away from cliché and the bleedin’ obvious.

For me his chief strength lies in his understanding of relationships and where the power and heat may lie in a given set of circumstances. This analysis relies not so much on a knowledge of KC as a grasp on what makes people tick.

The main advantage here, is having someone who is critical of the prejudices and assumptions I am likely to make as a writer, as I attempt to organise all the information that I’ve accrued so far. So as he cooks the breakfast, he asks "What are you wanting to achieve with the book, El Rotundo ?"

Over a big bacon sandwich, lashings of tea and Islands softly grooning in the background, I splurt out the following by way of reply. I hope that by talking to the ex-Crim’s and others that we can get a better understanding of the circumstances which lead to the formation of King Crimson and the continuing story.

It’s not, as I’ve said previously, the gospel according to St. Robert or anyone else. It’s an attempt to provide a platform upon which the voices and experiences of some of those who took part (and are still taking part) can be heard.

Not being a musicologist or a professor from the University of Upper Baboonsass, I have no great personal theory on the nature of Crimson or any unique judgement on the individuals involved. At best, I offer only my own personal relationship to the music and what leads from that.

So anyone expecting a great theological tome on God, the Universe and Everything is going to be greatly disappointed. What you’re more likely to get is a guide to the local parish churches which offers some commentary from the incumbents and points out some interesting architectural features along the way.

All of which sounds rather po-faced and earnest. We actually have a good laugh as we bat theories and arguments around and it’s this sparring that informs a great part of our friendship. Having said all that, I’m glad to be going home today and concluding the rest of the interviews for the book over the telephone.

"Not as glad as I am " says the Kimberman. See what I mean ?

Wednesday, June 07, 2000

Meeting Michael Giles

Bath

Another late night yakking with Kimber and yet when I awoke this morning a little after six, I felt refreshed and raring to go.

I gather from Debbie that it is indeed grim up North what with all the rain and freezing cold. Here however, the sun shines on the brave and the good en-route to Bath and a meeting with Michael Giles.

Rolling quintessential English countryside flows by in an agreeable blur. Pale stone Church spires peep over the thick canopy of trees and whole villages flow by in this quintessential blur of the English landscape.

Once in Bath, I made my way to the car park at the entrance and met up with Michael and after a false start at a restaurant, we hopped in the car and drove out of the town to The Duck And Punt (don’t try saying this at speed folks) - a beautiful hotel overlooking a river.

Under the blazing sun and impossibly blue skies we began by looking at a bunch of photo’s Peter Giles had given me the day before in deepest Surrey. Over a fine lunch, our discussion moved from the Bournemouth music scene to Brondesbury Road and the formation of GG&F.

At this point, I deployed the cover of TCIOGG&F as a further prompt. Our host who also happens to be called Sid looks incredulously at the cover and asks who they might be. He nearly drops his tray of empty glasses when the identity of the callow youth is revealed to be one of his crusty regulars !

Over the next four hours we address the formation of King Crimson, Giles’ assessment of the qualities and strengths which each member brought to the band and the internal and external pressures which lead to the eventual parting of the ways. We also take in Poseidon, the making of McD&G, working with Jamie Muir, his thoughts on the proposed re-union of KC ’69 and his thoughts on TCOL.

Tuesday, June 06, 2000

Peter Giles At Home

Surrey

Up early as was Kimber and we pepped up our ears with a choice selection from GG&F. This led us into a fascinating discussion about GG&F and the move to KC. So fascinating was the chat that I was almost late for my train to Surrey and my appointment with Peter Giles.

As I stepped off the train, Peter was there to meet me casually eating an apple in the pale sunshine. A quick guided tour of the small Surrey suburb, we get sat down in his living room and start an interview that was to last for over four hours.

Peter was able to offer a lot of details and experiences of the Bournemouth music scene in the late fifties up to his departure for London in 1967. We talked at length about the formation of GG&F, the arrival of Judy Dyble and Ian McDonald and his eventual departure from the band.

The conversation also covered the recording of Poseidon and the McDonald and Giles albums, his appearance on TOTP. We were also able to spend time looking through his archive of old photographs and press clippings. These were wonderful and added much to the already detailed account of life with The Dowland Brothers and Trendsetters Ltd.

Peter was extremely generous with his time and once again, allowed me to make off with some photographs from the period for possible duplication and inclusion in the book.

Got back to London were I heard from Michael Giles, who confirmed our interview tomorrow in Bath. Also talked to Robin Miller who played oboe on three Crimson albums. Robin indicated he was more than willing to be interviewed for the book and we’ve set up a time for when I get back to Newcastle later in the week.

E-mail from Rob Ayling at Voiceprint. They are going to re-issue Keith Tippett’s classic Blueprint album and I’ve been asked to come up with some sleevenotes. I have to say I’m over the moon as I regard this album as really special and I used to play my sister’s copy to death. Yee-haa !

Long way from home and I’m missing Debbie and the kids. Talked to both on the blower tonight at length but it’s not much of a substitute.

John Wetton At Home

Bournemouth

Late to bed the previous night with the Kimberman made me somewhat dozy on the train down to Bournemouth. But I needn’t have worried about finding the two hour train journey from Waterloo boring.

Flakey parents shouting at their frayed children, young lads trying to dodge their fares, smokers who understood that they were mysteriously exempt from the no-smoking signs, bored seen-it-all-before buffet car staff who would rather you didn’t buy anything from them as it interrupts their conversation, all combined to make the journey more eventful that it needed to be. Such are the joys of public transport

Got to Bournemouth bang on time and headed off in a cab to Chez Wetton. John was on the dog and bone when I got there but luckily had left the door wide open. After a long chat about acquiring the taste for Thomas The Tank Engine TV series at five in the morning, we made a cup of tea and went upstairs to John’s office.

The accumulated sprawl of a busy and hectic professional life lay largely unfiled in numerous unmarked packing cases. There was nothing for it but to roll up one’s sleeves and dive in.

It’s a pity I’m not writing a book on Asia as there were numerous items of interest but for a while it looked as though we weren’t going to find anything on King Crimson. Happily in the dying seconds of the game, John reached in and retrieved a couple of useful items making my visit more than worthwhile.

Like Stephanie Ruben yesterday, John was happy for me to take the items away for duplication when I get back to Newcastle. After a couple of hours we called it day, shook hands and I legged it.

Happy as a pig in the stuff which pigs are happiest, I cabbed it back from the Bournemouth suburbs and caught the train to Waterloo with seconds to spare.

Met up with Kimbloke in town, grabbed a meal and went to see the new Ridley Scott movie - Gladiator. Visually stunning with good performances all round, it was a little let down with some plodding script and needed to lose at least twenty minutes.

Back at base camp, Kimber and I got mellow with a nightcap and chilled out to Rory Gallagher’s first solo album. I’d not heard this before and really enjoyed it. Then we took another detour on the guitar heroes route and checked out Ten Years After. Love Like A Man sounded wonderful. The last time I heard it was in 1975 !

We had meant to get to bed early but with all the chinwagging, the clock told me that it was heading towards the 2.00 a.m. Blimey - so much for the planned early night.

Sunday, June 04, 2000

Judy Dyble and Stephanie Ruben

Rickmansworth

Met up today with Stephanie Ruben (previously Sinfield) and Judy Dyble on Stephanie’s houseboat moored on a picturesque canal in Rickmansworth. Judy covered in her time in Fairport Convention, meeting Ian McDonald and getting involved in Giles, Giles and Fripp.

She recalled the events surrounding the recording sessions taking place in the flat in Brondesbury Road and the challenges presented by the makeshift vocal booth which was situated in the living room.

She and Stephanie also swapped observations and recollections about being part of the Crimson continuum, its legacy and impact on their lives today.

Stephanie offered her own perspective on the personal and professional relationship as well as numerous anecdotes about the band in its early days and the first four albums.

On a point of information she telephoned Peter and Ian McDonald who were able to fill in one or two gaps in the narrative. As a result, Ian and I have fixed Thursday night this week for an interview. Another bonus was that Stephanie was able to put me in touch with her sister, who was married to oboe player Robin Miller !

Stephanie has also given me several photo albums and scrapbooks for me to duplicate for potential publication including many candid shots not in the DGM archives.

After five hours of chatting we headed off to some local stables where Stephanie keeps a couple of horses and some chickens. We then drove to West Finchely to feed some plants for a chum, whereupon I got the tube back to leafy Highgate getting a hug and kiss for my troubles. We make a promise to meet up again in July when Crimson are in town.

Off to Bournemouth tomorrow to see John Wetton and have a rifle through his drawers.

Saturday, June 03, 2000

The Sound of the Seventies

Last night Kimber came back with a couple of his mates and we all watched the final of Euro 2000 which I gather has been a high profile pan-European soccer tournament. The game was played out between France and Italy and jolly exciting it was too. I don’t normally watch football (no great reason other than it never connected with me) but last night I had a ball !

The banter was good and the football was entertaining. It never ceases to amaze me when they kick the ball that goes in a direction which they intended. This is not my experience.

After the chaps left, Kimber put on some old chestnuts from the likes of Uriah Heep and Alex Harvey. Donning our anoraks, talked about which bands we went to see in the early 70’s and how much of that music we still listen to either because of nostalgia or for current interest.

As we talked I realised just how much live music was available at the time. Looking back I wonder how I ever afforded it all but somehow one did. I didn’t smoke or drink and apart from the occasional bit of what would now be called recreational use of drugs (dope, speed, acid) all my available resources went on seeing bands live.

So a list of bands from the 1970’s might look a bit like this;

Atomic Rooster
Wouldn’t cross the road to see / hear them play ‘em now

Audience
Where are they now ?

Barclay James Harvest
Fond memories of wiffly Mocking Bird song but nowt else

Bad Company
The only reason we all went along was to see Boz. He wore red leather trousers - confirmation of his rock god status.

Be-Bop Deluxe
Saw them on the Axe Victim tour. Now who played the guitar ?

Note from Kimber - isn’t this man sad?

Jeff Beck
Liked that Blow by Blow tour but otherwise my listening has been Beckless for many a year.

Blodwyn Pig
Ex-Tull memfest with an outstanding Jack Lancaster on soprano. No Pig CD’s in the Smith archives

Budgie
I went with a mate. Pass the Trill

Camel
Something about a Snow Goose. Now I’d run ‘em over with a snow plough

Can
Totally wonderful years ahead of their time band. Saw them several times during their heyday and the Smith shelves groan under the weight of Can CD’s

Captain Beefheart
Saw the Captain a couple of times. Though unfashionable, I really rate Bluejeans and Moonbeams. Several Beefheart albums are frequently consulted

Curved Air
Sad to say that my motivations to see CA were not entirely musical.

Deep Purple
Aahh extreme dandruff exchange. Saw them several times with Gillan and had to wear a neck brace for weeks after. No Purple passages in my current album collection - none wanted either.

ELP
Queued up all night once to buy a ticket. Lost it on the bus coming home. My mother pleaded with venue manager and I got in. The show at Newcastle Queens cinema was then cancelled when there was a problem with the PA ! Three ELP albums on my shelf filed under nostalgia.

Family
Saw them a couple of times. Hadn’t heard them for years until Kimber was staying at our house a couple of months ago.

Rory Gallagher
More distribution of dandruff. Developed a life-long taste for red checky shirts but that’s all.

Free
Assured that it would be all right now, I left Free at the City Hall and never looked back.

Genesis
I can’t conceive of growing up without admiring Tony Bank’s pullovers.

Gong
Saw all the classic line-ups and even the one with BB. Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy is the donkey’s todger !

Groundhogs
Spilt is what happened to me and my Groundhogs albums many moons ago.

Hawkwind
Stacia - pure and simple. No space cowboys in the Smith household at present.

Hatfield & The North
I think I once paid as much as 42 pence to see these guys. All their albums and often played.

Henry Cow
Fabbo Agit-prop band which I was lucky enough to see supporting Beefheart. A fine set albums. I even bought the re-mastered versions so I could hear the orginal mixes - you work that one out. Totally wonderful.

Alex Harvey
A great live act but never worked on album for me. Heard some last night at Kimber’s house and it didn’t cut the mustard.

Roy Harper
I lurve the Harperman big time. Many albums owned and many a song provided the soundtrack to teen-age (and a bit of middle-aged) angst.

King Crimson
Heard the band - my life changed.

Led Zeppelin
Never has the humble sock known such abuse in the service of inside leg enhancement ! Currently re-discovering lots of the Zep back catalogue and getting into it thanks to Kimbrini.

Mahavishnu Orchestra
The day after they played the City Hall, my sister phoned all the Mclaughlin’s who lived in Whitley Bay saying "Is the Mahavishnu there please". Eighth call in an elderly sounding lady said "Just a minute, I’ll go and get him." We squealed in delight and horror and slammed the phone down. I can’t play that first album without thinking of this incident

Matching Mole
Loved their stuff. They were great live but oddly cast in a support role for

John Mayall
Enjoyable live but again I found the albums less convincing and thus there’s a distinctive gap in the section marked M.

Mott The Hoople
Never did a bunch of geezers look so daft in lip gloss and platforms. Sadly missed but not by me.

Mountain
I loved Flowers and Nantcucket to death and they were so loud live that I swear my hearing has been permanently damaged. I’ve had no desire to go Mountain climbing in the years since leaving the two albums on a bus.

National Health
Saw them several times on the college circuit. BB was stunningly entertaining battering away while reading the sheet music. The Complete NH and Missing Pieces are the business in our house. Debbie hates them.

Pink Floyd
Saw them before the release of WYWH. Awesome and all that. Several Floyd toe-tappers regularly hit the player.

Roxy Music
Saw them on their first big UK tour and I have the photo’s to prove it. For me they lost the plot when Eno went. Thus first two albums are the one’s that do it for me. The rest is crooning and a well dodgy dress sense.

Santana
Saw them with Earth Wind & Fire supporting. Read a book, raised a family, hitched around Europe and caught crabs during a guitar solo. Abraxis was one album cover you didn’t want your mother to take an interest in.

Al Stewart
Loved it all at the time and still have a soft spot for the roads to Moscow thingy. No Stewart in the collection other than Andy.

The Strawbs
A bit of the old histrionics but who could resist Brave New World ?

String Driven Thing
Loved them live avoid their albums like the plague.

Stray
Always the bridesmaid never the bride. No souvenirs of the occasion please.

Stone The Crows
Part gawp and part squirty lurve thang. No Crows on the shelf these days.

Soft Machine
The softs were great live and Hugh Hopper and Babbington were bass hero’s for me. There entire back catalogue is a feature of the collection.

Tangerine Dream
Teutonic knob-twiddlers induce catatonia. I confess I have Pheadra.

Ten Years After
Wearisome guitar pyrotechnics loved at the time but now best akin to a relative that one doesn’t speak of except in hushed tones when the children have left the room.

UFO
Phil Mogg once gave me a bottle of brown ale from the stage at the City Hall. Upon receipt of brown dog, I was promptly escorted from the building by a steward vigourously enforcing the no drink policy. Git. Consequently a deep scepticism of UFO product.

Van Der Graff Generator
The day after I saw them play I went out and bought a pair of clogs to emulate the Hammill look. Godbluff and Pawn Hearts still get some regular playing if only to rack Debbie off !

Wishbone Ash
If I’m honest I only bought Argus because it had a cool over.

Yes
Saw them around Topographic but it’s only Fragile and Close To The Edge that do it for me.

Enough already ! I'm late for Tom Phillips !

Stepping Out in Southwark

Leafy Highgate

Last night Debbie, her chum Kerry, the Kimberman and myself stepped out in Southwark for Debbie’s birthday. In the Slug and Lettuce, we raised our glasses several times to the passing of years and the way of all flesh. As the night wore on, we all got very merry and in the immortal words of Kinky Freidman, I was so high I needed a stepladder to scratch my own ass.

For reason’s which are still not entirely clear to me, we left the comfy but boisterous environs of the Slug and Lettuce and made our way to a real (lets be honest) sleaze bar. After the locals put on a bit of physical ballet ( cleverly disguised as a fisticuffs) we made our excuses and left.

The next mistake was made as we entered Borough’s very own comedy Indian restaurant. Cold food, wrong orders and an indifferent service made for a trying meal. Following a brief stop-over for a night cap at Kerry’s house, I discovered that I’ve lost the use of my legs.

Only with the aid of an industrial winch and the combined pull of Kimber and Debbie, am I eventually prized off the sofa and poured into a taxi.

This morning Kimber and I walked Debbie to the tube station and saw her off to Newcastle (well Kings Cross anyway). Blazing sun and soaring temperatures cause me to wilt early in the morning.

However, the bronzed lurve-god that is the Kimberman wastes no time in stripping down to his shorts and hits the back garden for a spot of sun-bathing, accompanied by the Hendrix back catalogue.

I head off into town for a meeting with the potential publisher of the book. A further inching towards signing a contract takes place and we part in good fettle. On the way in John Wetton rings me and we confirm our meeting on Monday where I’m going to have a rifle through his drawers.

Friday, June 02, 2000

Down at DGM

Leafy Highgate

Up early this morning feeling bluterous and pigged out after last night’s banquet. Bright sun in the trees and a brisk wind blowing the foliage about.

It’s Debbie’s birthday this morning and we had planned to hit Tate Modern but tales of crowds and packed rooms rendering the exhibits unviewable tempers our enthusiasm.

Birthday card, token pressies, a big mug of grim Kimber tea and lots of kisses and hugs is what she gets this morning.

yesterday. . .

From Highgate to Salisbury (and back again)

A grey morning on the train down to Salisbury. The landscape wreathed in mist, the vague shapes of animals in fields covered in the all-pervasive drizzle. The English countryside basking in the early stirrings of the English summer.

When Hugh picked me up at the station, things had improved slightly and at least it was dry. We drove to DGM HQ through deep winding hedgerow’s and past the startled faces of locals keen to avoid the merciless wheels of the O’Donnellmobile.

I’m pleased to report that Hugh has managed to bag a much better office than in the previous HQ where he occupied the landing. At least here the racks of magazines, rows of filing cabinets and piles of CD’s at least have some room to breathe. Hugh was busy working on the Larks Tongues booklet for the next batch of releases. From the tiny bit I saw, it looks as though Hugh is going to do the series proud.

After a spot of lunch in the local pub, we got on with the task of ploughing through the archive of photo’s and clippings which start with The Ravens and moves right through to the Double Trio.

The system we devised was to attach little yellow post-it notes to those sheets of contact prints or negatives and individual shots which were of interest and for me to make a record of it in my note book.

I managed to get through two whole packets of post-its and then some. Of course not all the photographs will be suitable and there will be some which DGM will want to keep back for their own use. However, shy bairns get nowt as we say up in Newcastle and it’s more than likely that I’ll have to have a return visit to hone the choice down.

I’d rather feature lots of illustrations embedded in the body of the text or as sidebars rather than a set of glossy pages stuck in the middle. Of course there is a cost to all of this and the budget will ultimately determine what is possible.

After three and a half hours of solid mapping, Julie O’Hanlon straps me to her roofrack and whisks back along to the train station. An hour later I’m at Waterloo and in the arms of Debbie. We meet up with her Sister,Dude and her daughter, Amy and plod off for a gargantuan Chinese feast somewhere in soho.

Back at Kimberworld, it’s bath, bed and oblivion roughly in that order.

Thursday, June 01, 2000

Fears And Doubts In Leafy Highgate

Leafy Highgate

It’s a wet leafy Highgate as I sit in Kimber’s office typing this at 07.14a.m. The gentle dub bass tones of my host snoring provide an interesting underscore to the sound of bird song and the arcing drone of overhead planes.

Got into Kimber Central last night at about 6.00 o’clock and sat in the garden with a beer catching up on the latest bits and pieces. Rang Tom and Joe who were staying at their Grannies last night and found that they were too excited to talk to me. Upon enquiring what was so pressing, it turned out that they were doing a thousand piece jigsaw of the tower of London. The thrill of the chase I guess and the fact the Granny makes the most mundane things into a game.

After this telephonic family reunion, Kimber and I hit the streets of Highgate and made our way to Bengal Bertie’s where we had a lovely meal. Our conversation addressed my fears and worries about my capacity to deliver the book.

Initially, it all seemed straight forward enough. I’m opinionated enough to want to inflict my ear view on Crimson upon the world and egotistical enough to think that the world might be vaguely interested. From there however things have started to snowball.

Once ex-Crims started to indicate their willingness to participate, the project became something else. There seems to be an opportunity to make the book into something far more comprehensive than I ever imagined. Certainly, the wish to hear the voices of long forgotten or passed over ex-Crim’s has caught a spark. Whilst this is good news, I can feel quite a lot of pressure to deliver something substantial if not definitive. This should be fun but currently doesn’t feel like it.

The feeling of guilt mounts as I fail to write a couple of thousand words per day, providing a corrosive whisper which eats away at my confidence. There are moments of panic and paralysis which come to visit and settle over me like a pall of smoke. Then inexplicably, it clears and you wonder why you ever worried in the first place.

This morning I’m off to DGM near Salisbury to have a rifle through Robert’s drawers.

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