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Saturday, September 30, 2000

Browsing

Leafy Highgate

Got into London yesterday and had lunch with the Kimberman at the deeply wonderful Banners café in nearby Crouch End. It was busy and packed to the gills with children and our conversation was regularly interrupted by the shrill whoops and shrieks of the nearby kiddiewinks. All of which caused the non-child friendly Kimbo to wince several times over the next hour. Of course it’s only just occurred to me that it might have been my chat that made the Kimbrini physog to scrumple up and not the wee brats but there you go.

London was mad and as chaotically sprawling as ever and within a couple of hours of being here, the mucous (aka snot) up my not inconsiderable hooter started getting streaked with the customary black flecks. I know this because within a couple of hours of being here I started to sneeze - a lot. Now I realise that the DGM website may not be the place to discuss the clarity or otherwise of one’s snot but it is a reliable indicator as to quality of the air.

After eating enough food to slow down an elephant we take a casual wander back to Kimbercentral and chill out chatting and reading and listening to the early Beatles back catalogue up to Rubber Soul. The latest edition of Q magazine contains a review of the KC re-masters and more than a couple of inaccuracies along the way. Looking at the rest of the reviews on the page I wonder how many errors there are about those artists. That aside, they get a reasonable write up with LTIA getting four stars whilst SABB and perhaps surprisingly Red pick up three stars each.

Late afternoon Kimber heads off to a swanky reception at Tower Bridge and I hit Charing Cross Road in search of a couple of books. I call into Helter Skelter and am delighted to see a hard copy of Chris Wilson’s TxT cover tacked up on the shelves with the legend "FORTHCOMING" next to it.

I met up with David Symes for a couple of beers and a bit of heavy-duty anoraking and related nattering. I’d phoned David on spec and happily he had a spare couple of hours for us to meet up. The last time I saw David was at the KC gig in Shepherd’s Bush earlier in the year.

Phoned Debbie to see how things were back at the ranch and check out how our current crop of house guests are settling in. The next few week-ends, we’ve got a string of folks arriving but I still feel bad about not being able to pull my weight this week-end.

Back home after more book browsing in Borders and I settle down to watch some mindless TV. Kimber arrived not too long after and wanted to watch some Jean Luc Goddard movies he’s recently acquired but I stuck out firmly for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Kimber muttered something about him having to intellectually slum it every time I come to visit but I ignored his Brian Sewell-esque retorts about my distinct lack of cultural ambition and got into some all-girl and highly improbable Slayer action. Eventually I fell asleep on the luxuriant Kimber sofa as he tried to inculcate me with a shot of Monty Python.

Up and at ‘em this lovely Saturday morning and downloaded e-mails from my sister, Peter Sinfield and Peter Woods, who’s the producer of the forthcoming Top Ten prog rock programme. The TV blokey person wants to do an interview with me this Monday afternoon. What they’re looking for from me is a sort of idiot’s guide to KC’s time line - key dates and points of interest along the way.

Clearly, this is not going to be an in-depth piece on King Crimson although they’ve interviewed Bill Bruford and John Wetton. In the time allowed in the programme, there’s only going to be ten minutes at most on KC and Peter Sinfield has expressed some serious reservations about the intentions of the programme makers i.e. it’ll be a piss-take and a stitch up job.

As we know Robert has also given the programme the body swerve and although there’s some worries about how the whole thing will turn out my ravenous ego and shameless need for publicity has managed to get me past any reservations so far.

More details as they emerge. Now, I’m off to make a heart-attack inducing breakfast in the Kimber kitchen whilst the man himself continues to produce sub dub reggae via his nasal cavities.

Thursday, September 28, 2000

A Lot of DiN

Spent most of last night in the company of Ian Boddy getting up to speed with the wonderful world of DiN.

I’d managed to write him some copy for the next DiN release and in turn Ian played me the recent concert he did in Holland with Nigel Mullaney on decks and devices and Markus Reuter on touch guitar. The whole thing sound very cohesive which considering they had only one rehearsal and with Ian’s hand in a bandage at that.

He also played me the hour long ambient performance he did for radio station on his last trip to the United States. Whilst the Holland performance will need some studio nipping and tucking the USA show can go just as it is.

The last ten minutes are taken up with an arrangement by Ian Boddy of a Charles Ives piece called the Unanswered Question. Beautiful blissed vibes for the chilled-out generation (plus one or two old gits as well).

A big thanks goes out to several American readers of this diary who have sent me various Stateside press Fripp and Crimso clippings over the last few days. These have really lifted the research and writing side of things no end enabling me to go back and in-fill some of the obvious gaps in the writing so far. Thanks gang – couldn’t have done it without you.

Canny Chris Wilson (aka The Beer Belly Of Byker aka The Walker Wok Smuggler) sent me four A3 pages of thumbnails of all the illustrations we have for the book which is over 200 so far and that’s before we raid DGM for their stock of goodies.

These include personal snaps taken in living rooms, rehearsals, GG&F at home, GGF& McD, posed publicity shots of various era’s, the original Angus Hunking agreement, receipts for mellotron repairs and crushed velvet trousers purchased in Kensington Market circa 1969, outakes from the McD & G and Red cover shoots and so on.

Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Fripp & Eno for the Trombone Anyone?

21.45

Spent the whole day wandering round with No Pussyfooting droning through my head. I’ve known this piece since it’s release and can pretty much whistle it backwards.

Years ago we went through a craze of playing the album 16 rpm which meant it turned into a vast dark slab sliding forwards at about half the speed of your fastest piece of continental drift.

In all the years of playing it I’ve never heard it for anything other than guitar but after my dream last night I know can’t hear it on anything other than seven magnificent shiny trombones. OK, I guess eight trombones might make more sense but it was seven in the dream. Crikey, whatever the number – it sounds wonderful in my head.

Speaking of sounding wonderful, as I braved the gale force winds and torrential rain tonight the post had delivered a couple of treats in shape of Mustard Gas and Roses by Jakko Jakszyk and a copy of The Rime Of The Ancient Sampler featuring various artist doing various things to various Mellotrons.

The later was sent to me by Mike Dickson of Black Cat Software fame. Happily he’s appended some of his own mellow ‘tron doodles so I’m looking forward to hearing those.

Jakko’s Mustard Gas and Roses presents a series of intimate and personal songs which draw upon his childhood and the search in adulthood for himself and a sense of needing to belong informs much of the album. There’s a restless, stateless quality to much of the proceedings in which national and internal borders and the rights of passages become recurring motifs.

Wrapped in a stylishly compact production there’s a pleasing attention to detail in the ornate and crisp arrangements - though I’m sure the hauntingly bleak Saddleworth Moor would have benefited from a real orchestra if the budget had have been there.

Jakko’s voice sounds good on this collection of songs which also feature the delicious talents of the likes of Mick Karn, Gavin Harrison, the ubiquitous BJ Cole and the ever stunning Danny Thompson amongst the throng.

Songs of loss and passage populate the album and particularly noteworthy is the reflective lilt of Little Town which conjures that dark frustrated isolation which can hold a corrosive appeal. The anthemic and sanguine Learning To Cry offers some hope of delivery from the emotional undertow.

Then and Now manages to reconcile loss and remembrance without ever becoming gratuitously sentimental and it might well be the album's moment of triumph - the restrained ‘tron / string like backing is worth the price of admission alone.

If there is a criticism of the album it is that Jakko’s ridiculously talented guitar playing doesn’t quite find enough room in which to take off.

In the scheme of things, this is a minor point and what we have is a revealing and heart-felt portrait of a man addressing his frailties and ghosts. Oh and you can sing along and tap your toes to it as well !

7.55 a.m.

Didn’t get to see Evan Parker last night. My mate Steve cried off at the last moment and to be honest I felt so pressured about getting the book done, I stayed in and got a bonus night free of charge. So I wrestled my way back to the recording of GG&F’s album, nipping and tucking and hopefully tightening things up. Had a fabulous dream which I swear I’ve not made up. I told Debbie about it first thing and could hardly contain my excitement. . .

I was in a large atrium – maybe part of a huge shopping centre which was very crowded. As I mingled through the people I became aware of some music which I at once recognised as being The Heavenly Music Corporation from Fripp and Eno’s No Pussyfooting.

I suddenly became aware that it was somehow different to the album and became very excited when I realised that it was being played live. As I quickened my step I came into a central clearing – little tiled steps, huge potted trees and so on – and saw seven trombonists reading the music off charts.

Two of the trombonists were simply keeping the low drone going and the music seemed to open and close in the vast acoustics of this glass covered venue. Shoppers by and large passed by pausing only to look at the spectacle of these players.

I can still hear the music clear as a bell. I wonder if Andrew Keeling had been carrying out secret test runs on a new arrangement ?

Monday, September 25, 2000

Some Thoughts on Red

A mixed week-end. Tom and Joe both ill with colds and sore throats, Alys smashed one of Debbie’s favourite decorative plates and Sam went to his first stay-out -all-night-party with a bunch of school chums.

Despite this Debbie and I did get to see the Coen Brothers new film O Brother Where Art Thou. Whilst it’s not up to the same level as Fargo or the wonderful Big Lebowski, it was a pleasant enough diversion. I have to say I’d been previously underwhelmed by main lead George Clooney but he was very good with a startling resemblance to Clark Gable.

Managed to hear the new batch of KC re-masters this week-end. Personally I think LTIA and SABB sound stunningly good. Slightly knoggled to discover that Bill Bruford saying “I’d like to do one more immediately please” is missing. Gasp. “Miss Balustrade, begin the letter writing campaign immediately”.

They all sound wonderful but Red does seem to have an edge and I found the title track and Starless just getting bigger and bigger. Of course it may well be that I’m investing some of my own history into this listening.

By the time Red came out Crimson were kaput and as each track bulldozed its way out of the speakers, I couldn’t really understand what had gone wrong. The music was some of the best I’d heard Crimson play and had a threateningly muscular aspect which was almost intimidating.

Red pointed the way to a formidable, not to say forbidding, music which really took a while to assimilate and get my teenage long-haired head around.

Now as I try to get my old baldy head around it and with a generous amount of hindsight, I hear Red like a ravenous, hungry beast pulling and tearing in all directions, beefed up and angry. There isn’t anywhere that this band couldn’t have gone although how long it would’ve lasted while they got there is anybody’s guess.

After giving Photek’s new album Solaris a thumbs up the other day, I’m afraid I’m now struggling with it. The main problem I’m finding with it is the introduction of vocals. They are of the “Gurrrrrrrrrrrlaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmgonnaaaaalllllurrrrrrrrrrvvvvvuuuuuuuu” school of lyricism and really rack me off something rotten.

Making plans to be in London and more specifically, Leafy Highgate this week-end. The Great Kimbrini is once again doing the honours by making Hotel Akimbo available and I’m hoping to catch up with his recent trip to the USA and hopefully see what he’s been up to painting-wise.

Off to see Evan Parker tonight in Newcastle. Now there’s a blokey who can make a lot of noise with one sax.

Friday, September 22, 2000

A Detonating Moon

06.48

A quick excerpt from last nights dream saga. . .

I was sitting at my desk and looking up I noticed how huge in the sky the moon was. It was a deep yellow and looked beautiful. I was carrying on with my typing when I suddenly noticed a lot of bright flashes in the sky.

Then looking up I saw a huge white flash right over where the moon was hanging and suddenly noticed a plume of white smoke rising up from the surface. All around it were thousands of tiny detonations each sending its own cloud skywards.

There was no sound and no obvious impact back here. I looked out in the street and neighbours were out shouting and running around. I shouted to Debbie and the pair of us rushed through the house carrying food and clothing right up to the attic anticipating a massive flood.

No wonder I feel tired this morning. And I did want to check to see if the moon was alright.

Note to Pat Mastelotto – buy Photek’s Solaris CD. Indispensable stuff. More details later.

This dispatch in this morning from Biffy who writes;

Re. Gini Barris: the only other thing I've seen of hers is a Julie Felix LP cover, which I do not own, but expect to receive soon. The artwork is immediately recognisable as being by the same person who did Lizard, which is how it caught my eye.

Thursday, September 21, 2000

A Crush On Julie Driscoll

Got in tonight and found a message from Julie Tippetts on the machine. Without wanting to sound even more trivial than I usually do, I used to have an enormous crush of Julie Driscoll when Wheels On Fire was released a few years ago. So, whilst you might think “ so what ?” to getting a message from Julie, it is for me, a monumentally huge deal.

The good news is that Keith has given a thumbs up for the sleeve notes I’ve done for the forthcoming re-issue of Blueprint. The bad news is Julie wants a word with me about some of the stuff I’ve written about her contribution to the album. Although good humoured, I detected a scolding edge in her voice.

Summoning up the bottle, I rang them back only to discover they were out. Phew !

Now here’s a spooky but true tale. Warning; this is tedious stuff which only true anoraks are going to be vaguely interested in. OK ?

About three or four years ago I was at an event organised by a pensioners group on a housing estate in Longbenton (which for the geographically challenged amongst you is just outside Newcastle). Whilst there I was encouraged to make a donation to the organisation and buy lots of things that I didn’t need from jumble sale.

In amongst the frayed and damp Mills & Boon paperbacks, I came across a book with a sub-Briget Riley Op-Art cover bearing the title Alternative London. Essentially a guide to the underground scene it was on offer for 25p. I paid a pound and felt I’d done my bit for Grey Power.

I can honestly say dear reader, that I have not looked at the book since the moment I rescued it from the heaving bodices and tall dark strangers. In fact, it was consigned that day into a box which we keep under the bed in the downstairs guest room.

Tonight I was minding my own business and doing a little contextual research into London in the late sixties when I remembered the book. Off I went and sure enough there it was. Opened it up for the first time and read the credits. I see it was published in 1970 and compiled by a Nicolas Saunder who was ablely assisted by Ann Cucksey. Then turning the page, I read;

. . .the other illustrations were by my friend Gini Barris. . .

Well you could have buggered me backwards and called me Barbara !

Gini Barris was of course the cover artist for KC’s Lizard and I’d love to be able to get some details from here about the commission. I’ve talked to Peter Sinfield but he doesn’t recall how or where.

Well, I was pretty gobsmacked anyway.

I offer you this randomly chosen highlight from Alternative London; under a section on hiring goods there is this pearl of wisdom -

Short wigs to cover long hair
Costs two and a half guineas from Nathan's 143 Drury Lane, WC2 (836 1195. Could save several times that in fines.

No, I didn't understand that one either. More gripping excerpts to follow.

Glad to see the Bonzo’s getting a mention on the Guestbook. Takes me back to earlier in the year when the “Biffo The Bear vs Before the bed” controversy was raging.

Wednesday, September 20, 2000

Knife Edge On The Brain

07.23

POW ! Woke up around 6.00-ish this morning and have Knife Edge by ELP banging loudly and hugely through my brain. How does that happen ? Also Had a dream in the California Guitar Trio were members of the audience in some kind of day-time Springer-esque talk show.

They didn’t actually stand up and testify or anything but they were dressed in black shiny PVC suits, wearing shades and looking cool. The sign of a sick mind or what ?

Got up and shaved my head and beard especially after Debbie pointed out that the beard-girth made me look like a Gerbil. Now I don’t count myself as too vain but what’s a guy to do ?

E-mails exchanged with Robert on more chronological conundrums.

Attempting to banish ELP from my brain with the use of A Somerset Rhapsody by Holst. The bucolic calm of the opening strains couldn’t be in greater contrast to howling winds outside. The sea is high and raging with huge breakers blasting over the lower promenade.

Ten minutes ago everything was slate grey edged with black. Now the sun has poked through the cracks and the white spray of the waves now look chalk yellow. Could be the Holst ?

Received a package interviews and articles on RF from Gert-Jan Blom in the Netherlands last night. Many thanks to Gert –Jan for the information. Really useful stuff. Also received another package of never seen before snaps of Giles, Giles Fripp and McDonald in Ross On Wye circa 1968.

What I'm really interested in is any articles or clippings on KC from 69-72 from the likes of MM, Disc Record Mirror, NME (in the UK) and anything that was published in the American press around that time. All offers gratefully accepted. Don't delay - get in touch today.

E-mails also from Trevor Lever who in a moment of extreme synchronicity tells me he’s moved down to Somerset. Trev's sold up from Surrey and down-sized. Quality of life issues. Talking to Russell Mills about this very thing last week. He was living in London and after seeing the Lake's (and the price of property) flogged the gaff in the smoke and moved up North.

Trevor’s e-mail also contained a generous offer for me to come down to the rural calm of Somerset and do some writing. Or maybe it was to help him do the decorating ?

Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Horlicks and Oblivion, please

Rain all day. Got caught in it three or four times as a result of hot-desking at work. Cold and shivery when I got in at 9.45 tonight. A vague sense of foreboding has dogged me all day and not sure why.

Spent my 30 minutes on the bus home tonight editing down the crucial dates in Ian McDonald’s 1969 diary. Fascinating reading and an absolutely essential aid to the events of that ground-breaking year.

Last received an e-mail from Rupert Loydell who amongst other things is a publisher. His e-mail contains good news and bad news. Good news is that he’s commissioned a biography on Keith Tippett. Bad news is he’s also commissioned a book on KC. You wait ten years for a book to come along and all of a sudden two come along at the same time !

Also received two or three helpful e-mails from Robert helping to clarify some points of opinion and chronology. Too tired to do any work on the book. Bath, diary and bed. Cup of Horlicks and oblivion await.

Monday, September 18, 2000

Diary Envy

Just been taking a look at the various other diaries on this site and came upon this item from Ian Wallace’s diary today.

"Not as enlightening as Sid “Swotty” Smith? I’m crushed. Devastated. Hide the sharp objects. No, no, I’m okay, really. Just gotta face up to reality, gulp, just have to try and be more enlightening. Let’s see, what would Swotty write? As I look out onto the bay at the red and purple light of the sun reflected off the cumulus clouds, the stirring echoes of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite rumbling liquidly out of the speakers, I drop my half-eaten Mars bar on the carpet in sheer awesome wonder!"

Spot on Ian but for one small and let’s face it, vital detail. The phrase “half-eaten Mars bar” is NOT in my vocabulary.

Sunday, September 17, 2000

Debbie & The Laptop of Doom

Debbie had a few of her ex-colleagues over at the house yesterday so much of her day was spent preparing the most sumptuous banquet possible. We all went for a walk along the beach in the most glorious sunshine.

The kids charged about with such energy and even managed to drag around an 8 foot long tree that had drifted in with the mornings tide. The stumpy roots left a huge long double line which trailed off into the distance. From up on the promenade it looked quite spectacular.

More tapping away yesterday once the guests had gone right up till midnight but not just me. Debbie is learning how to get to grips with the laptop computer her new employers have given her. For Debbie this is a real culture shock. She’s moved from teaching in one school where they didn’t have enough pencils to go round all the pupils.

I had to regularly steal stationary from my work place so that her children might have something with which to work. Now she’s a laptop kinda gal and resents all the extra time she has to put in to learn the basics of the machine etc. You can’t please all of the people all of the time I guess.

This morning I was up after some really disturbing dreams. In one sequence, I was a serial killer who was waiting to be caught. It sounds stupid but believe me, an overwhelming sense of doom and lurking evil was with me this morning as I padded around the kitchen causing me to be rather nervous and twitchy.

As a result I actually jumped when the Boojmeister curled himself around my ankle as I was making of pot of tea. Now I know that it’s my sub-conscious trying to tell me something but at the moment I can’t figure it out.

Listening to A Blessing Of Tears, Quickening The Dead (CDR) by Andrew Keeling, String Quartets by Frank Bridge, Stand Up and Benefit by Jethro Tull.

Friday, September 15, 2000

Review: Mujician by Keith Tippet

E-mail from Jim Allen enquiring if he should buy Mujician I and II by Keith Tippett, it’s a solo performance by the great man. My response to Jim went along these lines;

The album you mention is a collection of two albums released in the 80's and is a collection of solo improvisations recorded in 1981 and 1986.

This is Tippett with a vengeance and not for the faint-hearted.

The ferocity of his attack on the opening tracks is unmatched by anyone bar Cecil Taylor. Spiralling motifs collide and smash into one another under an insistent, visceral pulse making this amongst some his most caustic and uncompromising music put to record.

Yet the paradox with Tippett is the shining lyricism that veins his work like a seam of gold. On this outing he is raw and unrefined, moved on by his own internal muse.

Whether he's dropping pebbles into the body of the piano or shouting into the zither, this is an album suffused with and astonishing, unflinching light. My advice on the Tippett cd could be distilled into two words; buy it.

My son Joseph was born seven years ago today and tonight we celebrated by providing him with a “cake” made up of seven doughnuts each with an individual candle.

Gerry Anderson’s puppet series from the sixties Thunderbirds is incredibly popular here having just recently been digitally re-mastered (i.e. cleaned up) and so I got him a model of TB 2 (the big green bug-like one). It squeaks and says FAB a lot when pressed. Joe was mightily impressed. Not too much (i.e. none ) in the way of traditional party games.

Instead these post-modern children (we have a couple of guests staying) swarmed off to watch the Simpson’s on TV and then piled onto a Playstation game which I was told was all about conflict resolution. It actually looked more like beating the living jobbies out of the other person but who am I to argue.

More correspondence from Peter Sinfield regarding this proposed TV prog rock programme and a terse note from a P Stump - who was on Peter’s CC’s- saying “I am not Paul Stump. Please take me off your list”.

Several e-mails from Robert Fripp clarifying a couple of points and later in the day I talked briefly to Gordon Haskell doing the same.

Didn’t realise the degree to which Khatchachurian’s music has been pilfered by TV producers and film directors. As I listened for the first time (or so I thought) to highlights from Spartacus and Gayane I recognised a whole host of themes and tunes from my youth.

Thursday, September 14, 2000

Channel Four Get In Touch

Pete Woods from Chrysalis TV got in touch today after being steered my way by ET’s Toby Howard. They are making a programme on the Top Ten Prog Rock Bands Of All Time (or something like that) for Channel Four on UK TV.

The programme will be broadcast in January and will probably only feature ten minutes of KC in total. Bill Bruford is being interviewed and they’ve asked for other contributions from other Crim’s.

They’ve asked me if I’ll provide them with a few pointers and access to some of the pictures I’ve collected. The worry one has in assisting something like this is that one can enter into it in good faith and then end up taking part in a hatchet job.

I've suggested they start the KC bit with some fat Geordie Bastard standing outside of the present day 93a Brondesbury Road peering through the curtain of the kitchen window straining to see if there are three young blokey's in there.

They got very excited indeed when I suggested that they track down and interview the model from Newcastle who gave Fripp the clap. They were very interested in this aspect until I let slip that the date of this very unsocial transmission took place well over thirty years ago.

Speaking of transmissions of a different kind, the post this morning brought me a small but perfectly formed package from America containing photocopies of three or four articles which Fripp contributed to the Musician magazine way back when.

Cheers to Mark for his help in this matter. They made fascinating reading as I downed a much needed bacon sandwich made with stale bread. Stale because there’s no bread in the shops as a result of panic buying by the good folks of Whitley Bay.

They are panic buying because they are scared that the shops will run out of bread as a result of the petrol shortage. So they panic, they buy more than they need and hey presto - the shops run out of bread and WAAAAAAAAAAAAAA - more panic ensues.

The news coverage has in my view contributed to the general air of crisis. Tonight on the main BBC news they reported the same point three times just in case we missed it.

The attitude of the media has been interesting. Had the blockades of oil refineries been organised by trade unions (Fact; there are now more members of Equity, the actors union than the National Union of Mineworkers) the Tory press would have lost no time in telling us about the threat from within and the dangers of these subversive elements who want to bring democracy to its knees. Yet these people are “frustrated” not “dangerous” and are “lawfully protesting” rather than “holding the country to ransom”.

Of course I might have more sympathy with the Government if more of the taxation raised from the sales of petrol went into environmental research and initiatives.

Had a good laugh on the blower tonight with Mike Dickson up in Edinburgh tonight on the subject of Mellotrons. Mike writes a bitingly funny commentary on the various uses to which the ‘tron has been put over the years on a fabulous web site which also offers little samples.

Listening to Gavin Bryars, Ravel and Led Zeppelin. Yee-haa !

Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Out and About with Mills & Walton

Out in the Fat Ox last night with Russell Mills and his friend and collaborator, Ian Walton. The pair had come over to Tyneside to discuss the sound / visual art installation / exhibition / publication project.

As you can tell there’s still quite a lot to be worked out. As soon as they arrived we headed straight off to the our first port of call which was the Orange call centre. Purpose built last year, the call centre houses a few hundred people handling enquiries and billing.

The first time I ever visited the place, I was struck by the strange, er. . .luminous quality of the sound. Different layers seemed to waft in and out of the aural focus making for a curious listening experience.

I recommended the call centre as a possible sound source to Russell and Ian who duly got there DAT recorder out. Elsewhere, we checked out a large electricity sub-station which is located near a railway line, a power grinding firm, a busy road and a broad swathe of tree’s. Russell nailed down this ready-made symphony of ambient drift and then we headed off to Whitley Bay so they could check into their B&B.

We were joined in the Fat Ox by Debbie, Mike and Anne and a good time was had by all. Somehow we all ended up at our house with me cooking an impromptu meal for six out of whatever it was I found in the fridge. 2.30 a.m. we all went out to look at the sea and get refreshed by the breeze.

This morning I was subjected to the Technicolor Yawn - caused by too much beer the night before. Russell and Ian called round and we went off to scout for some more potential locations for the installation end of the project. One empty warehouse seemed ideal although we have several more to look at on their next visit.

As we drove around we listened to the forthcoming “best of” David Sylvian album which will be out soon. Russell did the cover and another fine job it is too.

Tuesday, September 12, 2000

My Mother in Mourning

00.18

I had to phone my mother tonight when I got in from work after nine last night. She is on holiday visiting relatives in Guernsey and I had to tell her that her brother Tom, who lives in Canada, has been diagnosed as having cancer of the liver.

She was obviously shocked although knew that it must have been bad news for me to have rung her while she was away.

I know that she’ll want to get out there before he dies. At this stage though, we don’t know how long Tom has to live. My mother has never been to Canada to see Tom who emigrated from the North-East of England in the late 1930’s.

They've kept in touch over the years by telephone, letters and cards. About ten years ago Tom and his wife Nora came to visit and that was the first time I'd actually met him.

Nora died suddenly at Christmas and Tom took it very badly. They were both in their 80's.

My cousin Brian who lives in Canada was going to ring her and I know that she’s in good hands with the relatives in Guernsey. I’ll speak to her tomorrow.

After that I went out into the front garden to watch a storm that was gathering above. There was a low sea fog and so the storm was somewhat diffused and the lightning seemed to spread across the whole sky.

When the rain came down it was a fabulous down pour and John from next door and I went down to the sea front watch the aerial drama unfold. Muffled thunder raked across the heavens, putting us in our place.

Quite a few other folk had the same idea and there was a small crowd of us standing, getting soaked to the skin being lashed by the wind and rain whilst the storm raged above.

Sunday, September 10, 2000

Matt Mobile


More work on the Lizard chapter juxtaposing commentary from Gordon Haskell which I collected from him earlier this year and press clippings from Robert Fripp dating from 1970. It’s interesting to see Robert’s views of the day laid next to Gordon’s memory of the same events of nearly 30 years ago.

Managed to get so far and then looked up into the street below to see a dead thin bloke carrying a whole load of instrument cases; ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for Mat Seattle.

Made a cuppa and we sat down. This was the first time I’d met Matt in person but it seemed to me like we’d known each other for a while. Within thirty seconds we were talking about relationships, partners, children, second families and all manner of deeply personal items which were I to repeat here, would make this diary sound even more like a copy of CHAT than it normally does.

Debbie and Alys joined us as we sped off in the Matt Mobile towards Royal Quays in North Shields, where Matt was due to play his new tune which we’ve commissioned called Tyne Anew – named after a 75 foot high piece of sculpture which overlooks the river Tyne.

There were actually very few people turning up on the day but those that did enjoyed themselves with junk sculpture workshops and Matt did us proud with several tunes throughout the day.

Chris Wilson turned up and we managed to exchange some bits and pieces for the book. A big thanks to Trevor Lever and Ian McDonald for the loan of the various items. I’ll get them in the post this week. Chris took away the new items that Peter Giles recently sent up for scanning. Chris and I made vague arrangements to meet up at an opening on Tuesday night.

Back home after a long day’s piping, Matt and I retired to the kitchen to make a round of cheese on toast and to talk some more. He’d also brought down a couple of piping books which he’s produced. In amongst such risqué titles as Cock up your beaver and I’ll Have Her Awa In Spite Of Her Minnie were Sir Sidney Smith’s Strathspey, March and Waltz. Fame at last.

We sit and ponder on some future plans and eventually I help him back to the Matt mobile. Altogether a nice day. I round it off with some writing and Benjamin Britten. Debbie does the Sunday night ritual of ironing school uniforms and has earned her right to laid on the sofa watching a movie on Television.

More Fripp and Haskell for me.

Saturday, September 09, 2000

My Favoured House Work Music

16.02

Housework finished. . . and now I’m about to start sorting the mess that is my desk. Andrew Keeling phoned earlier today and brought me up to speed on world down at Keeling Towers.

Andrew’s orchestration of Robert Fripp’s soundscapes sounds very interesting. Also of considerable interest to me is the project he’s undertaking with Jacob Heringman and Peter Sinfield.

Andrew read some of the words Peter has contributed so far and they are really rather stunning. If the music is half as good as the words then they’ll be flying – no disrespect meant Andrew !

And now for something completely different - does anybody have a complete set of the Musician magazine articles / diaries which Robert Fripp wrote during the 81 – 84 period KC ? If so, I’d be interested in getting a hold of them for research purposes. I’ve never read then and there’s quite a few references to them in the interview with Bill Bruford.

It’d be good to take a peek myself. If you have a set (in whatever format) and wouldn’t mind letting me borrow them then please get in touch at the usual address.

13.00

Slept through till 8.30 a.m. which I regard as a lovely long lie-in. No interventions or intrusions from the numerous children who seem to congregate in the house last night talking of sleep-over's and the like.

In the kitchen making a pot of tea and Tom comes in and asks if he can have some left-over Banoffie Pie for breakfast. Reeling slightly at the sickly sweet nature of this request, I say OK and watch him wolf down the hi-cal Sugarfest. How’s that for good parenting eh ? Then Joe asks if he can a couple of poppadoms and Nan bread left over last night’s curry !

As the kids charged about in the street, I listen to Vaughan Williams third symphony and slip into some kind of time travel back to when I was a kid, living in the country . . .endless blue skies, swaying wheat, green hills, wind rippling through the heather’s and gorse, the sound of sheep, the smell of the cows in the byre. . .I tear myself away from such bucolic reveries and get back to life in Victoria Avenue on a Saturday morning with a heavy load of housework on the horizon.

Chris Wilson (book cover designer and scanner-man to the stars) rings and we have a chin-wag about meeting up and exchanging envelopes stuffed with KC memorabilia. Chris has just done some work on re-designing some Manticore albums which are going to be re-issued which Carl Palmer gave the thumbs up to. He’s also just done a redesign job on Couple In Spirit 2 by Keith and Julie Tippetts.

Talked to Matt Seattle last night about arrangements for his stint with us on Sunday where he’ll be playing a selection of sprightly tunes underneath the 75 foot Tyne Anew sculpture on Sunday. Looking forward to meeting up with Matt and having a natter.

Had a laugh catching up with Pat Mastelotto’s diary. Just realised we were locked in a race to beat each other to posting entries ! Pat also e-mailed to clarify a point or two he’d made in his recent interview with me. Also in the e-box was a note from Jakko who has lead on Andy McCulloch and his re-appearance in the UK. Jakko suggests that he might be able to track him down on my behalf. Go for it kidda !

In my interview with Gordon Haskell he talks in some detailed about Andy wrestling with some of the timing for the music of Lizard and how the two of them worked together. It’d be good to be able to get Andy’s perspective on that recording.

The Nightwatch double set is chosen as my favoured house work music. Gosh - doesn’t this stuff hum along at a rate of knots ? These boys were good. No wonder it had such an impact on me as a callow spelk of a youth.

Friday, September 08, 2000

A Whispering Campaign

Busy, busy, busy.

Lots to do and little time to do it in.

A few impending visitations which I’m looking forward to including Matt Seattle on Sunday and Russell Mills and Ian Walton on Tuesday. More details when they arise.

Currently focusing on writing exercises which are a way of keeping suple and in shape. I’m doing these longhand and keeping them all in a kiddies diary which Jeff Fayman sent me a while ago.

They aren’t intended for publication or to be re-read but get the brain clear and the wheels turning. The equivalent of sit-ups, designed to get the heart pumping and the blood circulating.

Also aimed at slaying some of those whispering dragons which slyly undermine one’s confidence and belief in the project. These whispers would include;

I’m not intellectual enough to write about Crimson
I’m not a professional writer
I’m just an anorak who is probably only using the book as excuse to indulge in nostalgia and mindless acts of hero-worship
There isn’t enough time
I shouldn’t do it like this
I should do it like that

And so on. . .

I list these things not to set off a tide of backslapping or panto-esque “oh no, you’re not” from chums and supporters of the book but to recognise the insidious slivers that worm their way through ones confidence.

By recognising them I can challenge them by answering each negative with an affirming positive.

Tuesday, September 05, 2000

Knackered

03.06

Phew. Another long session. Working through five or six hours of Gordon Haskell's interviews and intermingling the tales with The Giles Brothers testimony.

It's way past my bed time and I'm feeling knackered. I can't think I'll be able to do too much more of this.

Up at 6.30 a.m.

Monday, September 04, 2000

Feeling The Strain

19.12

Talked to Matt Seattle tonight about the Tyne Anew tune which we commissioned to commemorate a 75 foot piece of sculpture which has recently been installed overlooking the River Tyne. It’s by the renowned American artist called Mark di Suvero and is the first major piece by him to grace these shores.

We asked Matt to come up with a tune that might conjure the new and the old that mix and merge on a post-industrial river with more heritage than you shake a stick at. Which he did.

Matt sent me a CD of a recent performance wittily entitled Piping At The Gates Dawn which contains the said tune. The gig was with Mr.McFall’s String Quartet and what a wonderful sound they make together.

And what of our commission ? Is it any good ? Imagine a more sedate and courtly Little Wee Winking Thing from Matt’s fabbo Out Of The Flames DGM release and you’re heading in the right direction.

Weaving gently around me as I write this entry, the melody sounds like a tune you’ve forgotten you didn’t know before you’d heard it. That means I like it.

Also on the CD is a track called Winter which I’ve read about on Matt’s diary site. It’s such a startling poignant melody – full of yearning and hope complimented by a cascading string arrangement. Clean took my breath away.

Also on the blower to Jakko Jakszyk tonight. The mad impetuous fool has volunteered to do a bit of archival research with me. It’s one of those things that I’d love to do but know I won’t get the time to do. What a pal.

Gorgeous morning with a crisp slightly chilled wind blowing in off the sea. Sparkling haze over the sea. Tom and Joe playing out in the street, full of beans and raring to go.

My head is in the clouds as the music of Faure and Allegri’s sublime Miserere gently unfolds. The book will have to take second place this week because of other pressing priorities which are vital to the earning of a crust.

Yesterday we all had a splendid day in Northumberland at Belsay Hall, exploring the acres of secret gardens and dense woods. Only an hour away from our front door, Belsay Hall is a huge Victorian hall complete with it’s own follies, romantic outcrops and temples. As we tramped around Debbie and I pondered on my need to get some uninterrupted time in to write the book.

I need to get some dedicated time to the book which is very difficult. Don’t get me wrong; nobody asked me to do this. I went into it willingly. Enthusiastically even.

But I know I need a few days of unbroken time to crack the back of this whole thing. This is essentially being locked up up away from kids and work. How feasible is this ?

The book was a much easier prospect when all I had to worry about were my own inflated and pompous opinions. Now, I’m having to take account of several versions of reality, sifting and prospecting for the gold dust which may or may not rest within the accumulated silt of thirty years.

I’m trying to take a week or so off but don’t have too much in the way of paid holiday and also I have responsibilities to the staff and the service of my day job as a whole. There might be the possibility of taking some unpaid leave but then their remains the question of how to pay the bills and stuff.

What a moaning minnie I’ve become.

Saturday, September 02, 2000

Burning The Midnight Oil

4.59 a.m.

Gosh that was a long session tonight. Sometimes when you've gotta flow, you've gotta flow.

And now. . .to bed. Only two hours before Tom and Joe will be up.

Then I won't be feeling so smug with myself.

Friday, September 01, 2000

Wide of lapel and big on neckware

Phew ! The last couple of days have been busy doing shedloads of work on the book. Good news is that lots of bits of chapters have started falling into place. Sometimes finding out where they should sit has been a bewildering task but gradually a shape has started to unfurl.

Am I any closer to nailing down the essence of “what” KC is ? Not on your Nelly. How it could it be any other way ? The thing that is Crimson remains tantalisingly out of reach.

Fripp’s attempts to codify or rationalise the external “other-ness” of King Crimson seems designed to illuminate and obfuscate in equal measure. It’s a benign sleight of hand which some of Crim’s past and present members don’t buy into, preferring instead the more down to earth explanation of a bunch of guys being in the right place at the right time (sometimes).

Even this more earthbound interpretation contains so many powerful confluence’s when one considers the delicate alchemical balance of psyche, talent, personality and dogged determination that has to be found then mixed to bring King Crimson’s particular music to life and make the thing fly.

Whether you buy into the good fairy riff or the right place scenario, there’s still enough magic and wonder to go round for everyone. Turning lead into gold - is one hell of a trick whichever way you look at it.

Sifting through all the prejudices and predisposition’s of players, partners and bystanders so far, I’m left with the unshakeable impression that they have all been touched by an intense and demanding presence.

Caught might be a better description.

Though it might be as long ago as thirty years since their original brush with Crimson, that time continues to resonate with them in some complex, almost subterranean way.

Whether it’s been a enabling or frustrating encounter with the King, it remains tangibly and powerfully “their” Crimson engendering unwavering assertions of parenthood and ownership.

Over the last few months, I’ve not talked to anyone who didn’t have a passionate and committed view about “their” Crimson, no matter how grudging it may have been.

And here even the absence of Crimson seems to impinge on some ex-Crim’s affairs, benchmarking or distorting their subsequent musical activities and career.

Being a prisoner of another time or place, when it’s not of their making or choice has meant developing extraordinary reserves of patience or an impervious Beckettian resilience. No matter how long the arc or how short the tail, the comet that is Crimson comes back around – sooner or later.

Step forward unrelenting fans, promoters with an eye on the nostalgia market and even fat Geordie bastards who fancy themselves as a rock band biographer. It’s seemingly impossible to escape the predestined gravity of inquisitive, remorseless, backward-looking, scrutiny.

And if such a description from the front-line of rock band biography sounds dour and maudlin, it’s also a place of barely restrained joy and energy. In this place, “their” Crimson has made many things possible, opening doors and establishing profound connections which cascade one on another. There’s much generosity and acceptance to be both given and experienced. One kind of leads to the other.

Speaking of generosity and acceptance, Peter Giles sent me a little package containing a set of colour photograph’s featuring GGF&McD – wide of lapel and big on neckware. They are part of a series of shots taken when the boys in the band headed off to Ross On Wye at the behest of Dunlop Tyres. . .

But that’s another story – and I know just book where you can read it.

Also in the package are a couple of snaps taken in the kitchen of Brondesbury Road. All of which makes me a very happy camper today.

Good vibes and wishes to all my chums who are at the various Guitar Craft levels which begin (or have already begun) in New Jersey.

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