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Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Review: The Source

Managed to stay awake to watch the documentary on the Beat Generation. Johnny Depp read many passages from On The Road and captured Kerouac's deadpan, deadbeat voice perfectly. Dennis Hopper as Burrough's didn't try to emulate that slow drawl but really brought the excerpts he read out alive. The vintage clips were wonderful and there were several which, as a seasoned Beat watcher, I'd never seen before.

The documentary was a straight forward telling of the main stories which most of us are familiar with. There's almost a cosy comfort in hearing them all over again, something reassuring. An America of the mind preserved in amber. A time - provided you don't look too closely - which was free and simple. There was no critical analysis of the Beat phenomena and certainly little in the way of dissenting voices in the parade of weather-beaten faces of survivors and academics. This was about a nostalgia for a time - one which I never experienced but which is well known and utterly familiar to me.

This morning I was up and about but hampered by a streaming nose which might just be hay fever with a bit of luck. A strong wind has been pushing things around in the night. Plant pots in our backyard have tumbled over like stout drunks. The roof of the Wendy house across the street has lifted off and made a run for it toward the seafront. On the agenda today - washing clothes. When the wind is like this, it's the best way to dry clothes.

Listening to Exposure by you know who. It occurred to me that this album would make a great release as part of the Virgin re-masters. Plenty of room to have both versions of the mix and who knows, perhaps some of the contributions which never made it onto the album. I'd have liked to included Exposure in the book as I think there are some definite pointers and links through to what happened later. Certainly the LoG is a clear indication of where things were going and Thrang Thrang Gozinbulx is an absolute gem of an album. I never saw the band in action but know a few who did. They tell me the LoG were exceptionally good. Listening to the official bootleg, I get a sense of what they mean.

Sunday, May 27, 2001

The Cat & BIrd Game

Featureless grey sky this morning although a delicate vein of blue trawls across the horizon between the lighthouse and off towards Cullercoats. A very light wind. It feels warm. George Ted and I stand and look at two large gulls which are sitting on the water. The cat momentarily reverts to primal type and goes all intense - as far as I can tell.

He nearly went so primal he visited his ancestors earlier this morning. Insect with long spindly legs (we call them Daddy Longlegs round these parts) on one side of the lace curtain in the bedroom window. Window wide open. George Ted gets as low as he can go and goes ! Into space. Easily misses insect, knocks everything off the inner window sill, swings into space with only his claws connecting him to the lace curtain and any chance of feline dotage. Insect manages not to move an inch in all of the mayhem.

George looked hopefully at the gulls sitting on the water but after the Daddy Longlegs episode I persuaded him, that his image and standing amongst the other cats, couldn't survive me having to call out the Air / Sea Rescue. From this point on, George feigned a snooty indifference to the birds and trotted homewards with me.

Talked to Jakko yesterday afternoon. He seemed in fine spirits but was very busy. It was good to catch up on some news but we'll save most of it for when we meet up next week.

Also talked to John Kimber of leafy Highgate. The man also seemed in good fettle and we made plans to go and visit the gallery in Highgate where he'll be having his exhibition in July.

It's always good to walk the space before an event in order to get a feel for the place. Getting a feel for a place operates at a number of levels. There's the physical and there's the psychic - for want of a better word - the vibe. It's intangible but real. Spaces change when work gets put up. The ceiling gets higher or lower, the room in general lighter or darker. The subtle interaction between a physical space and the psychic space which placing any kind of work produces can make or break a show. A determining factor within all of this of course is the balance and movement which is created when you put one painting next to another. That's when things really start to move. Pebbles in the water stuff.

Yesterday was also spent shopping for Debbie's birthday present. This involves several small items gathered together but when I got them all out, it didn't quite add up to what I had in mind. So I may well make another sortie townwards today. One of my favourite rituals is to buy a copy of the Radio Times (a TV and Radio programme listings magazine) and map out the weeks listening. I took a look at the television programmes and discover this Monday night, there's going to be a programme on the Beat Generation. Dennis Hopper as William Burroughs, Johhny Depp as Kerouac and John Tutturro as Ginsberg. Can't wait to see it, provided I can stay awake as it's on quite late.

We do have a video recorder but I always feel that if I can't find the time to watch the programme when it goes out, when will I find the time to watch the video ? An exception may be made in this instance.

Listening to Alina by Part. It's the ECM version which alternates between Spiegel Im Spiegel and Fur Alina. Beautiful. And as it plays the light drizzle stops and gives way to sunshine. I kid you not.

Saturday, May 26, 2001

Lightness This Morning

6.45 a.m.

It's a beautifully calm Saturday morning. Tom, Joe and I walked down to the end of the street, crossed the road and looked out over the Bay. The cat came too. At the far left arc stood St. Mary's lighthouse, its white tower etched in peach coloured sunlight. In the opposite direction was a small white boat with red sails. Lord George Ted of the Booje (aka as the cat) went onto sneak mode to try and catch one of the small birds that hopped and scuttled about.

Sadly for George the little birds were wise to his game and put plenty of blue between them and him at the crucial pouncing moment. Somewhere out over the far rocks, the fog horn rolled mournfully over the haze. The calm water, so flat it was almost silver, gently lapped and murmured up from the promenade below. The boys said they thought this was a magical time of day. Looking around I knew what they meant. When we got back we went into the garden and to our delight saw that the Iris's we all planted nearly two years ago had finally bloomed.

In slug and snail world, these blooms are al a carte haute cuisine and last year we lost every single flower to their nasty but impressively rasping and rapacious mouths. We spread broken eggshells liberally around the base of the plants but occasionally, the snail equivalent of Steve McQueen breaks over the top and gets munching. Over the last few days we've all been going out into the garden at odd times removing slugs and snails from the stems in order to try and protect the precious flowers.

So the slug and snail hunt has become a rather serious business. The other morning I burst out laughing when I saw Tom was out with his bow and arrow, while Joe did all the actually picking up and removal. Removal involves relocating the snails into the street. Birds gather gratefully. The cats convene. The very air is filled with hope and expectation. When we go indoors I dread to think of what goes on. Hell, it's a jungle out there.

This morning I sat and listened to Lightness - Music For The Marble Palace by Brian Eno. It's one of Eno's floating ambient pieces he did for an installation in St. Petersburg. Restive, calming waves of sound soothe and drift. Sean Hewitt tells me the recent BE album is well worth a listen. As I listen to the music I watch the weather change. The sunlight has gone, the silver sea has turned to grey and George Ted is taking a dump in the house opposite. If by any chance the house opposite is reading this entry, then you have my sincerest apologies for what your bedding plants are about to receive.

And the good news is that in the mail this morning the telephone bill came. Not only are we ahead of the game in terms of payment it turns out they'd been charging us for a service we never used or asked for. In the general horror that used to be our bills we'd never noticed £8.35 a month going on some surf option.

Once it'd been spotted though, we totted up the amount we'd overpaid and it came to a little under £50 ! So this bill included a rebate which means there was nothing to pay on this one and probably nothing to pay on the next ! Hurrah.

Friday, May 25, 2001

A Novel Approach

7.05 a.m.
Big mistake. I put John McLaughlin and Shakti on this morning. The speeding raga work out of Joy was just too much Joy for me at this time in the morning. Eighteen minutes later I felt totally knackered. And all I was doing was sitting still while it playing. If that was the impression it had on me, can you imagine the state of mind you have to gear yourself up to, to be able play music like this ? So Johhny Mac got the boot and a genteel Ravel String Quartet passed with flying colours.

Recently finished reading a Jack Kerouac biography by Gerald Nicosia. I'd bought the book back in the 80s but only just got round to reading it. Now that's what I call planning ahead.

Like many people, I first read Kerouac when I was a teenager and the combination of what seemed to be his unconventional approach and felt inspired to hop on the nearest bus and go, go,go Daddio ! I recall hitch-hiking to London and the Hammersmith Odeon to see Weather Report and Shakti in 1976 with the spirit of Kerouac very much in mind. The Beats seemed to be an ideal combination of promiscuity in all its various manifestations but there was also the intellectual, existentialist aspect which also greatly appealed and seemed to validate our getting drunk and being lecherous. We were always able to say that we were "living life !" in order to be able to write about it. The bit missing of course was that we never did that much writing.

I used to live in a bedsit in Jesmond (well heeled suburb of Newcastle but with a huge transient student population) and got to know another guy in the house who was a writer. Tony and I would meet up in each other rooms and discuss Kerouac whilst listening to Green Haze by Miles, Eastern Sounds by Yusef Lateef, solo Monk, Parker et al. Imagining ourselves to be Cassady and Kerouac discussing Thoreau or the state of the human condition we usually posed the nights away, aided only by copious pots of tea and our overdriven egos.

We used to read each other poems we'd written and I was always impressed by the fact Tony had written a novel. The thin sheets of typing paper were collected together to form an impressively dog-eared bundle which was the very appearance of what I imagined a manuscript should be. In the six months or so that we lived in the same house, I never did get to read the thing. Our marathon sessions were only curtailed by the breaking of dawn's early light, complaints from the neighbours or the onset of laryngitis.

I heard on the radio the other day that the manuscript of On The Road was sold at auction for $2.43m (£1.7m). The new owner of the 120-foot scroll was also the owner of an American football team. Neal Cassady in a letter to Kerouac dated January 7th 1947 wrote "Art is good when it springs from necessity. This kind of origin is the guarantee of its value; there is no other.


The scroll is 120 foot long and written without paragraphs

Talked to Michael Giles yesterday. He'd got in touch to see how the book was going. We both agree that it'll be impossible to keep all the people happy all of the time. Also heard from Gordon Haskell who's album Alligator Man has been renamed Look Out. Gordon sent me a copy a while back and it is such an upbeat album. His voice sounding almost Beefheart-ish at times. Gordon is convinced that this album will be the one to break through and gain him the recognition he believes he has been cheated out of.

Try and fail to make contact with Jack Kimberac of Leafy Highgate. I'm going down there next week to frighten his porcelain and ravage his squirrels. A chum rang earlier in the week to tell me that the book of Channel Four Top Ten series has already been remaindered in a chain called The Works. There's a chapter on the Prog Rock prog and I get a mention in it. Couldn't bring myself to spend ten quid on a book simply because my name appears in print. However, now it's retailing well under a fiver, I think my vanity can be tempted. I figure it'll be going cheaper somewhere in Charing Cross Road.

Saturday, May 19, 2001

Sunday In Brooklyn

Life seems to swirl about in every nook and cranny of the house this morning. Taking a few minutes out of the melee, I slip on some Syd Barrett and a new discovery (for me at least) Elie Siegmeister. Born in New York city in 1909, Siegmeister's works for solo piano are shot through with strong overtones of Gershwin but also a lyrical voice which is very appealing.

Several pieces have a sultry swagger to them and have that edge whereby you think you already know the melody before you've heard it. I'd not even heard of the composer until yesterday but today feel like I'd heard his music all my life.

Consulting RED's Classical Catalogue, I discover several works by Siegmeister have been recorded including "Prelude, Blues And Finale - two clarinets and piano" which sounds very intriguing. I love discovering "new" music and the lift it gives you. Rawk Onnn Sieggy Babeeeeeee !!!!

More work on the 80's awaits although I'm itching to get the final versions of the other periods put into some order. E-mailed Sean H and a certain resident of leafy Highgate with Chris Wilson's last but one re-design of the cover. Their praise was fairly measured and neither are keen on the title but sometimes you can't make an omelette without first climbing over the farmers fence and knicking all his chickens. Chris e-mailed me through another tweaking of the cover which looks even better. The phrase Strange Dreams came to mind when I saw it. Don't know why but their you are.

Also in the post, e-mails from Dan K and Andrew K - both addressing the concern about hacking too much out of the book.

Friday, May 18, 2001

Pruning

Beautiful weather is back with us today in Whitley Bay and happily my mood has improved. E-mail from Sean Hewitt today announcing that he has finished re-cutting the first chapter. He says;

The new Chapter One-A is 12,036 words long. That's 5,254 words shorter than the last version and 9,645 words shorter than the original.

Always allowing for the fact that my calculations are probably wrong, I think the edited total word count for the first eight chapters is now 76,922 BEFORE I tackle the second chapter again. That means I've so far cut 28,896 words from the whole thing

Reading through Sean's pruning, it seems a little too much has been pared back especially in the opening times of the Giles brothers early bands. Of course these edits are not carved in stone and as I read through Sean's work I come up with an idea how to get the first chapter to open up with a bit more punch than it currently does.

The 1980s is starting to get threaded together now to see if it can hang together. So far so good.

Also via e-mail two more adjustments from Chris Wilson on the cover. It looks a lot stronger than before despite having a pic of my beaming mug hovering on the back page.

Currently grooving to Alfred Schnittke String Trio and Gorecki's Beatus Vir which manages be both oppresive and beautiful. Beautifully oppresive perhaps ? Or please yourself.

A lovely afternoon and I couldn't help but get a small barbie together. Something civilised about sitting, eating and chatting. We played chinese whispers until it got too cold to stay outdoors and then the washing up seemed like a good idea.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Niggled & Wormed

Not a good day at all. Woke up in the night heaving away in the midst of an asthma attack. Eventually drifted back to sleep wheezing away like an old bellows. Then slept in until well after 7.00 a.m. Once I got the boys awake Tom was very distressed and on the cusp of tears. No obvious reason why. Didn't want to go to school today but couldn't get out of him why not. Bullying ? Struggling with lessons ? Fallen out with friends ? Not sure what's going on at the moment. We three get the bus on time and sit in distracted silence - Joe lost in looking at the road and Tom staring into space just lost.

Left the children at the school gates, dogged and clouded by an intangible feeling of anger and resentment which stayed with me for the rest of the day. Numerous reasons I suppose. Anxiety . . .lack of sleep . . .sore chest . . .unpleasant dealings with my ex-wife. . .local government. . .inland revenue. . .the paucity of the Labour Party's manifesto. . .and so on. All these things niggled and wormed their way through my brain today. Left feeling frazzled and irritable.

There was some respite when I called in on Chris Wilson today and took a look at the new design idea he's got for the book. It looked stunning I thought - very sharp and direct.

The book appears to be called "In The Court Of King Crimson". Not popular with everybody and perhaps too populist with others. Hey - just like Crimso !

Gave Chris what seemed like hundreds of clippings and bits of memorabilia for him to scan and put on file. Not all of them will appear in the book - there's simply too many. The collection filed an entire bag. This represented my diggings at the British Museum, the Kimber collection and World Leader Symes cutting service. That was a weight off my shoulder I can tell you.

Just before I left, Chris loaned me a copy of Smell Of A Friend by The Lodge. Members of The Lodge include Peter Blegvad, John Greaves and Jakko Jakszyk. This isn't something I'd heard before and so I was keen to borrow the album and give it an ears over.

After I saw Chris I drifted off into Newcastle and bought some small items for Debbies forthcoming birthday. However my mood hampered my creativity and so I abandoned the purchasing after three or four small items were procured.

On the way home I picked up a copy of the BBC Music Magazine. It lifted my spirits to see Quickening The Dead by Andrew Keeling reviewed. The range of the pieces clearly foxed the writer - he wasn't sure how to pigeon hole Andrew's work. "Listen to O Ignis Spiritus . . . and it would be easy to mark Keeling down as a conservative English composer, heir to the organ loft tradition; here the abrasive Quickening The Dead. . .and a more uncompromising stance is suggested."

It has struck me in the past that QTD was sequenced more like a rock album rather than a homogenous collection of "classical" pieces. For me this works very well. The album has some real dynamics and I don't just mean from soft to loud.

Feeling grotty and so I'm going to get off to bed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

A Cutting Remark

6.45 a.m. and opening for business. . .

Yesterday was grey and drizzling which was good for the garden but not good for the drain pipe at the back of the house which is leaking all over the out-house. Happily this morning the grey has given way to silver. The sky is a dazzling back-lit white with the sea and the horizon rendered completely invisible.

A message from a man who seems happy in his work. . .

Sid!

Just wrapping up my chisels.

I'll have another look at the new, slimmed-down, anorexic and shortly-to-be-hospitalised Chapter One tomorrow. But it's about 12,200 words long now, which is another big cut.

I'm just a bit intimidated by the savagery of this edit and will re-read it tomorrow to see if it hangs together. If it does, and I can do the same for Chapter Two, it'll be heading towards the right length - depending on how long the two guitarists witter on...

Cheers
Sean

Sean is doing a good job with his editing so far. By being ruthless he's boiling to writing down to the essential. As any regular reader of this diary will know my tendency is to blather on and on at length. This doesn't mean that I agree with everything that Sean has excised but at the moment that isn't important. Sean's work has been in effect to clear a path through the trees and to let some daylight and clarity into the writing.

More unwrapping of the 80's Crim today and (hurrah !) some wrapping up as well. Like the blokey with the specs says "Things are not as bad as they seem. . ."

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Farewell Old Checky !

It's been a tense couple of days here at the nerve centre of the King Crimson Biography Central. One of the most vital pieces of equipment I've been using over the last couple of years inadvertently got put in the washing machine !

I've been wearing a big lumberjack-style quilted shirt (aka Old Checky) whenever I sit down to write. The shirt itself has become a part of the process - enabling me to carry on with the task of writing despite the distractions of say, a runny nose or a vomiting child.

You see the quilted lumberjack shirt has excellent absorptive qualities and can mop up even the most troublesome of bodily fluids. Similarly, it can easy wipe up things like melted butter (or lo-cholesterol margarine) or spilt cups of tea. Simply extend an arm or lean forward, draping the shirt in the offending gloop and a few minutes later, the problem is solved. All of which is done without having to get up and go and get a cloth. OK the shirt stays a little bit soggy for a while but as long as you don't move quickly it's fine.

Of course over a period of time the shirt has acquired a patina which is interesting from an organic point of view. Hell, it might have even been spawning a cure for the common cold. I like to think that this verdigris has itself become an aide-memoir to some of the great events of the writing of the book.

Of course, the last few days in Whitley Bay have been very hot and the shirt was given a rest. Yesterday however it was grey and overcast and a little shivery. So I goes to find the shirt only to discover that it had been put in the wash !!!!!!!!

I retrieved Old Checky but it was too late. He was a gonner. The washing powder had done its work and the shirt was now as good as new.

In the post this morning an e-mail from Jakko "fantastically entertaining and funny" Jakszyk. We've made some plans to meet up in London in June for Debbie's birthday. Jakko and Debbie's sister, Dude, used to go to school together. Small world etc.

Monday, May 14, 2001

Listing

The sun stopped shining today in Whitley Bay bringing to an end a seven day heatwave. So that was the summer. More ploughing through the 80's material and finding much joy and jewels which had hitherto eluded me.

Sitting this morning thinking about some changes I want to make in my life. Made a list of the pro and cons. Made another list looking at strengths and weaknesses. Wrote another two columns with opportunities and threats. Followed this by listing my all time favourite Doo-wop groups and realised that I need to stop making lists. So I sat some more and thought some more. More to come I'm sure.

When I picked Joseph up from school he asked me if the Lollipop lady got paid for helping us cross the road. "Not very much but yes, they do get paid" and Joseph replied "Well you wouldn't need to get too much money because it'd be nice just helping people wouldn't it. "

Talked to Sean Hewitt tonight after I got in. Sean is re-cutting the first chapters again to strip back even more words. He tells me that the journey from Bournemouth to London can now be done on foot in no time at all. Resisted the urge to re-open the Double Trio chapter.

Sunday, May 13, 2001

Combining Opposing Forces

Another beautiful day here in sunny Whitley Bay. Not too much done on the book this morning although I did manage to talk to Chris Wilson. Chris rang last night but we were possibly in the back yard drinking a bottle of Bulgarian red wine.

The subject of our discussion this a.m. was the cover design for the book. The publishers and the distributors have been in touch with Chris and have suggested alterations to type faces and have chosen one of Chris's alternative cover designs. In the end we've agreed to go with the alternative one - which replicates the spirit of the old design but brings out which encapsulates the theme of combining opposing forces - which so often crops up in Crimson's music. So to everyone who viewed the old cover design and made suggestions (all of which were taken account of) - thank you for your time and energy.

Happy with the changes we've made arrangements to meet up later this week and go over the interior design ideas. I'll ask Chris to put up some of his ideas for the lay-out as a pdf file so people can have a look at them. We also need to start grading the various photographs and images for potential inclusion.

Saturday, May 12, 2001

The Death Or Glory Pace of the Rock n' Roll Biographer

Talked to Jack Kimberac on the phone this morning, checking details and making suggestions for a hand-out which will sit in the gallery during his exhibition in leafy Highgate during July.

In the mail this morning a copy of KC at Mainz from Laura at DGM. A powerful performance I think. They couldn't half whip up a storm when they were in full flow and John Wetton's vocals are particularly impressive.

Spent the afternoon shopping with Debbie at the local supermarket. You spend a shed load of dosh of food, carry it all back, take an age to load it into the relevant parts of the kitchen and then some whippery-snappery kid bowls in and starts whining that there's nothing to eat !

Then out into the front garden with the laptop and more work on Beat. In order to maintain good relations with the neighbours I listen to the album on headphones. When the sun goes in and the wind from the sea at the end of the street gets a bit to nippy, we up sticks and head into the back yard and resume the sun soak up routine. A lovely picnic of cheeses, breads, olives, humus, various vegetables, fruit and fine wine are accompanied by Louis Jordan fooling around from the radio.

And tomorrow we've been invited to some friends for a Barbie !!!

Will visitors to this diary be able to keep up with the death or glory pace of the rock n' roll biographer ?

Listening to Republic Of Thorns by Russell Mills, Ian Walton and Paul Farley today. The CD is part of the documentation of an installation commissioned by The Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere up in the Lake District.

The CD is a collection of dream-laden ambience with a reading from the poet Paul Farley emerging from the heavy folds of sound. Bizarrely the track seems to be the perfect accompaniment to the day - sunny and very, very hazy. Think of Brian Eno's ambient masterpiece Thursday Afternoon and you're in the right area.

Friday, May 11, 2001

Fripp As Bond Villian

An e-mail from Sven Kimbirsk contains the following revelations about an alternative career in crime for a certain guitarist of our acquaintance.

Hi Sodly Smut

On pages 158 and 159 of the latest Bond adventure ("Never Dream of Dying" - sports fans!) we meet a strange character.

I quote:
Essinger poured on the charm. 'Bonjour, monsieur.' He shook Bond's hand. It was firm but a little sweaty. Bond noted that the man's body odour was particularly strong. Or was the smell coming from Fripp?
'So I understand you'll be joining us for s few days?' Essinger asked.
'Yes and I thank you for allowing me to do so,' Bond said.
'Don't thank me,' he said, 'thank Tylyn. She's the one who wants you here. Have you met your fellow countryman, Mister Fripp?'
Bond shook hands with the stuntman. The grip was strong and vicelike. the freckle-faced Fripp smiled, revealing two missing teeth Yes the body odour was Fripp's.

End quote

Spooky eh? English with two front teeth missing and Bond villain! Ha! The Crimson band members are right to suspect him. Today Wimborne, tomorrow the world!

World domination eh ? Ahhh. . .now it all makes sense !

Wrote a few notes for John Kimber's forthcoming exhibition in leafy Highgate and then spent until two in the morning wandering over most of the material I've written for the 80's period Crimson. Sometimes you can't see the wood for the trees and sometimes you get a splinter in your finger and as tiny as it is, it still hurts like hell.

So more sifting and trying to shift my perspective on this period. I dusted off a copy of Oblique Strategies which sit on my desk and consulted them. "The Inconsistency principle" it said. And then later "Change nothing and continue with immaculate consistency". Bugger.

It's been another beautiful morning in Whitley Bay with gorgeous brilliant sun and endless blues. Arvo Part has just finished his stint as BBC Radio Three's composer of the week. For no good reason I follow it with Vaughan William's First Symphony. Fabbo stiff upper lip stuff, bracing and salty.

Thursday, May 10, 2001

Sunny Daze

Endless sun here in Whitely Bay. Some days I feel truly blessed.

The floor in the yellow room is covered in sheets of paper, clippings and notes concerning 1980's Crimson. This period continues to elude me although I found a minor breakthrough whilst listening to Neal and Jack and Me. A small moment in the music suddenly caught my ear. Something in the music I'd never heard before suddenly dragged me through the current impasse and into somewhere else.

Not quite inspiration but certainly out of the creative doldrums where I've been languishing. Up at out and onward to an interzone of some kind. And once there, the landscape is different and a different perspective of Requiem emerges.

In the post today a couple of CD's. Markus Reuter has a new album out on the USA based Hypnos label. Entitled Digitalis it's a more spaced out album of loops. I'm not entirely convinced by what I've heard so far and it hasn't grabbed me as did his last album. Early days though.

The other CD came from Russell Mills and it's the soundtrack to an installation which Russell did with artist Ian Walton and poet Paul Farley. It comes in an impressive package and I can't wait to get my ears into this one.

Talked to Ian Boddy from DiN tonight. A sampler of the music which has appeared on the DiN label to date is to be given away to subscribers of The Wire magazine next month. Ian's asked me to come up with some words as part of a site re-vamp. Only trouble is he wants all the stuff by next week-end. I'll have to see what I can do

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

A Bit Vague

Feeding time at the zoo. . .

Despite calls to my higher self, I couldn't resist watching the TV last night to peer into the first day of the election campaign. Blair made the formal announcement in front of a packed school hall, complete with baffled pupils and the news scrum. Blair does have the countenance of a young, earnest vicar - deeply sincere but somewhat overbearing.


William Hague addressing the Tory conference in 1977 aged 16


William Hague (he's the leader of the Tory Party in case you weren't sure) started his campaign in Watford and talked about meeting the real people. So surrounded by members of the party faithful, he stood on his metaphorical soapbox and punched for all he was worth. Hague is the very embodiment of a lightweight who's been over-promoted way beyond his skills. His installation as leader of the Conservatives has always had the appearance of a stop-gap measure, thus allowing the real candidate for the leadership to emerge. When Hague loses this election, he'll be quickly challenged and dispatched to the back benches or the house of Lords.

After all the excitement I tried to carve some kind meaning out of the chaos of the 1980's period Crim. It's my chaos not theirs you understand. In the 80's I fell out of love with Crimson. The Discipline album failed to make much sense to me and it wasn't until I heard N&J&M from Beat (this was long after its release) that the penny dropped and it started falling into place.

I feel that I've had a reasonable grasp on the other incarnations of Crimson but the work I've done on the 80's (most of which was written early last year) is a bit rudderless. So I continue unpick and unpack.

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Holidays In The Sun

I hear on the radio that Ronnie Biggs is back in the UK having been flown from Spain in a chartered jet courtesy of The Sun tabloid newspaper. For those who don't know, Biggs was part of a gang who robbed the London to Glasgow mail train in 1963, getting away with over two million pounds. Biggs was caught but escaped from prison after serving 15 months of a 30 year jail sentence. Since then he's been on the run but wound up living in Brazil where he sired a child and thus under Brazilian law could not be extradited. He recorded a record with remnants of the Sex Pistols and generally cocked a snook at the hapless Inspector Slipper Of The Yard.

Now he returns home wanting only to sup a pint of beer in Margate. He's in prison and intends to appeal against his sentence. No doubt The Sun has paid him a fortune for the exclusive story of his return. I can't help thinking that our love of the criminal as urban folk hero is profoundly misplaced. When they weren't viciously extorting money, issuing death threats and actually killing people, the Kray Twins were kind to animals and loved their mum. Hence the scenes of almost national mourning when the last of the Krays died. History become folklore; "Ee was a good 'un" one old dear said to a BBC reporter. "Cruel but fair" opined a character in a Monty Python sketch which lampooned the criminal career of Doug and Dinsdale Piranha.

The press is working itself into a lather about the impending general election which was announced today. Blair's lead in the polls seems to be unassailable. As a long standing supporter of the Labour Party I find myself increasingly aghast at the trend and drift in much of the New Labour agenda. I've always been aware of the shortcomings of the party but have intuitively felt that even a bad Labour government would be a much better bet than a Tory regime. And yet, in the couple of years I've seen ridiculous levels of bureaucracy imposed and wasteful paper chasing imposed on local government. In the scheme of things of course, this is a minor matter but one on which I'm qualified to spout about.

More tinkering with the Double Trio section of the book and a determined assault on the 80's is required to get this sucker into some kind of shape. Listening to the re-mastered copy of 3OAPP and Absent Lovers is extremely instructive. One provides the bear bones of the material and the other shows what can be done when you add a bit of musculature. Notwithstanding one or two sparkling moments, I'm still of the view that 3OAPP remains Crimson's weakest album to date.

Finished work on a small painting called The Passage over the week-end. Three others still on the go just waiting for the right idea to come along and transform them into what they are waiting to be.

Monday, May 07, 2001

Review: Jon Ronson - The Secret Rulers Of The World

It's such a gorgeous sunny morning and the sun has some real heat in it. I'm intending to try and get some work on the book done today as the last two days have been taken up entirely with family life. Sitting upstairs in the yellow room drinking tea and listening to Radio Three's composer of the week who happens to be the old Estonian himself, Arvo Part.

Cantus In Memorium Benjamin Britten is a particularly evocative piece. I sit transfixed to the slow rolling of those mournful strings as they move towards that final solemn chord. Quite stunning. To the serious classical buff Part is probably something of an irritation - classical music for people who don't like classical music as I once heard it described - but his voice is as individual as any I've heard. There's a dignity and grace in his music which no doubt sounds flat and one dimensional to his critics but which speaks to me simply and efficiently.

Yesterday was spent in the garden feeding some of the kids in the street (as a slight distraction from The Wars Of The Doors) and planting the meagre items we rescued from the NO CHANCE garden centre. This means that I actually spent the time making cups of tea and doing the food and washing dishes. My mother, Doreen, was invited down for a meal but this was just a ruse to get her working in the garden. At the end of the day, Debbie and Doreen surveyed their work and with a glass of wine in hand declared themselves pleased with what they'd achieved. And quite rightly too.

I'm reading programme maker Jon Ronson's witty book THEM - Adventures With Extremists and last night enjoyed Channel 4's programme The Secret Rulers Of The World which is based on the book. the series is based. His skill is bringing out both side of the argument which test one's preconceptions and opinions. Last nights programme chronicled David Icke's visit to Vancouver. Icke used to be a popular sports broadcaster but queered his pitch somewhat when he announced he was the son of God.

Sometime later he began talking about a conspiracy which involved the earth being ruled by 12 foot shape-shifting, blood drinking Lizards who were manipulating the world and its inhabitants for their own end. Famous Lizards include the Queen of England, George Bush, the Queen Mother, ex-UK PM Edward Heath and so on.

His visit to Vancouver was opposed by a coalition of Jewish and left-wing activist organisations who were concerned that Icke's writing and public pronouncements were anti-semitic i.e. the Lizard Conspiracy was a code for a Jewish Conspiracy. The coalition managed to get some radio and in-store appearances stopped and picketed some of his talks. At the start of the campaign, their tactics were to present the arguments against Icke in a cool, dispassionate and ultimately convincing manner.

By the end, when their powers of rational argument and were no longer working and with Icke's schedule was gaining a level of support, a faction of the coalition resorted to throwing a custard pie in Icke's face during an in-store appearance. Sadly their aim was off, only fleetingly catching his arm but managing to squarely hit the children's book section, ruining several titles. Afterwards, a highly pleased group of anti-Icke protesters congratulated themselves on undermining Icke and his message.

What Jon Ronson does in a very coy and disarming way is to cleverly expose the extremism in both sides of the argument and their own inherent failings when it comes to presenting a message. Each preach to the converted. Each believe their crusade is for freedom, truth and justice. In the end both demean those concepts by petty actions and puerile behaviour.


Today an e-mail from Sean Hewitt tells me that the word cull stands at around 23,642 words. He's been hacking away at the chapter on Red and has made some considerable improvements. The effect of Sean H's editing is to tighten the focus of the book and clearly point out the areas which require remedial attention. Then after all that is done the whole lot gets shipped off to Sean Body at Helter Skelter who will do more cutting and suggestions. The material that we've cut so far hasn't been crucial and in fact it's been more to do with hacking out my propensity to use ten words where one will do.

Hoping to meet up with Chris Wilson next week and start pushing round some ideas for the front and interior design of the book. We also need to begin to get up an A and B list of photographs together made up from the material I've accrued over the last couple of years. At some point in the not too distant future I need to arrange a visit to DGM to go over the picture archive there and make a final list for inclusion.

On another tangent, I'm slowly coming around to the notion that what the world needs is a book about Roy Harper. Whether or not such a book is already commissioned or not I haven't a clue. Yet another sure-fire mass appeal best-selling money maker of that there is no doubt.

Saturday, May 05, 2001

Cat Wars

It's another beautiful morning here in Whitley Bay especially with the music of Debussy rattling the old Joanna. The kids have basically been living outside for the last three days. We throw them scarps of food upon which they fall and feast and leg it back out into the great blue yonder.

WARNING: The next 808 words have got bog all to do with King Crimson or the KC biog.

Victoria Avenue as the title cunningly implies was built during the reign of Queen Victoria. It's a long pedestrianised street bisected by another pedestrian walk way half way up. This acts as a dividing line.

Mostly the kids are not territorial and there's usually a lot of cross-pollination between the kids in the top end of the street (them) and the kids who live in the bottom end of the street (us). However, over the last two days there have been increasing tensions between the kids which have erupted into gaggling lines of taunts, jeers, charges, counter-charges, retreats and triumphalist parades.

At the centre of it a little boy who is only aged six yet manages to mastermind and direct a vicious campaign of water bombs resulting in one extremely wet cat who happened to be caught in the cross-fire. Needless to say to say, our lot were outraged at this atrocity and standing outside our house called an emergency meeting. Carl and Andrew declared that the bombing of the cat (called Poo by the way) was an act of barbarism which went beyond the pale of normal human decency. Tom and Joe angrily agreed, calling loudly for our side to go and bomb all of their cats and see how they liked it. Shanie and her sisters let out a blood-curdling yell and started talking about giving them a taste of their own medicine. Little Sam and Melina readily agreed and talked about the need to defend our cats from the likes of them.

Just as the armaments industry was swinging into action ("Dad - have we got any balloons ?") - a delegation from the top end of the street called down. They had disowned the bombing and in fact wanted to bring an end to hostilities. In fact they'd never liked James because he was always bullying them and getting them into trouble. Quicker than you could get a lump of chewing gum stuck to the sole of your shoe, an alliance had formed and both ends of the street were united in their loathing of the arch-aggressor James. Pump action water guns, pea-shooters, water bombs, swords of the plastic and wooden variety were disinterred from long-forgotten toy boxes. Joe suggested to Tom that they get their space blasters out. Tom looked disdainfully reminding his brother that these were mere toys and what they needed were real weapons.

Back outside the troops marshalled and charged up in a zealous frenzy, they began to march up the top of the street. I counted fifteen kids of varying ages ready to take on one boy aged six years old. And so did Jude from next door. At the same time, we both did our United Nations bit and intervened calling them back from the brink.

Negotiations were swiftly concluded and all arms were rapidly decommissioned. We talked about how what they were doing was unfair and unnecessary. They in turn poured out an emotional torrent detailing the horrors and crimes perpetrated by James. They were aggrieved by the relentless provocation which they had endured. Hadn't we always said that they should stand up to bullying ? They simply wanted to ensure that James would never water bomb any of our cats again.

Eventually using a carrot and stick approach the troops were pacified and they took up a game which seemed to borrow from tennis, rugby and football in equal measure. James played sullenly on his own looking forlornly at the rest of the kids playing up there in the rich fields of the moral high ground.

Earlier in the day we'd taken our four children off to a garden centre. Aptly called NO FRILLS it had to be the most utilitarian of out of town shopping centres I've ever had the misfortune to visit. It might have been re-titled NO CHANCE garden centre such was the paucity of the stock. What there was managed to be herded into cramped aisles only wide enough for one person at a time. This meant getting along to the Sweet Williams became an act of zen-like contemplation. I spent much of the time practising finding my centre of gravity as I waited for the couple in front to make there choice from the meagre specimens in front. True they were cheap but how much do you want to pay for a plant that has one root on earth and another half way to horticultural heaven ?

Most people when they finish at the garden centre pack their goodies into the back of the car and head off. Of course we don't have a car and so have to walk the half a mile or so to the nearest bus stop laden down with our carrier bags of plants. Back home and in the garden hoping to resuscitate the recently liberated.

Friday, May 04, 2001

Review: Harry Miller

Listening to lots of British jazz at the moment. In particular the work of people like double bass player Harry Miller. Crimheads will know Miller via his brief appearance on Formentera Lady. Last night was both sides of Bracknell Breakdown which he recorded with trombonist Radu Malfatti. Side one lasts over twenty minutes and is entitled "The Audient Stood On Its Foot" and side two a mere stripling at sixteen minutes with "Friendly Duck".

This is sizzling, pointilistic stuff where the music is paired down to a molecular level as notes and phrases bounce off each other. Recorded in 1977, it's probably true to say that its starkness would empty a room of house guests but it has such a ring of authenticity about it. These guys were seeking something out and the points where they find each other and "it" are stunning. And then it slips away and the search begins again. Exhilarating stuff and highly recommended.

Beautiful blazing sun, clear skies and a light breeze skimming in off the sea. The bay looks lovely and I can't quite believe that so much is available right at the end of our street.

This morning Tom and Joe are off school due to a training day and we plan to take a walk along to Cullercoats harbour. Cullercoats is about half a mile along from us and also the place where Iron Press originate under the stewardship of local writer Peter Mortimer. I notice in Andrew Keeling's diary that he's reading a book published by Iron Press. I'm not at all sure that this would count as any kind of synchronicity but it is a small world.

It's my sister's birthday today. Sent her an e-card. Lesley and I have always been very close but in recent years our relationship had become strained and difficult. Happily we managed to cross the bridge just before Christmas and re-establish contact and have begun to find our way back to what we value the most about each other.

On a similar theme, I talked to a friend on the phone yesterday. He's consumed by bile, frustration and envy and thrashes around in a cage entirely of his own making. Every time we talk his condition seems to have worsened. He's such and creative individual who turns his hand to music, film and poetry and is currently working in a local independent art gallery. Over the years he's developed a caustic bitterness which seems to have calcified his creative potential. How to unlock this ? Every suggestion or counter-argument is met with a sullen scepticism. So we talk less and less and I increasingly struggle to find ways of finding a way past the negativity. And I can feel a friendship fading.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

Conspiracy Culture

The word cull continues. Tendrils of black smoke can be seen snaking up into the sky around the trendy, canal area of Nottingham. It is here, in his converted loft, that Sean Hewitt carries on with his mercilessly efficient removal of the foot in mouth words written by yours truly. As he tosses them onto the pyre, Sean tells me that the current total of excised verbiage stands now at 21,290 words. By way of retaliation, I send him 13,878 words concerning the Double Trio which currently goes by the name of "From Double Trouble To Double Trio."

The chapter which covers the SABB period reads much better now that Sean has taken out the tosh I'd written about the English music press of the day. At the time of writing it, I was going somewhere but got distracted and ultimately needed to substantially re-write it or give it the old heave-ho. In the end Sean has done the job for me and it's removal lets a little light in.

I'm still busy with the 80's period Crim and so it was very timely when the 80's remasters turned up in the post courtesy of my chums at Virgin. The package looks very handsome indeed and the music seems to have acquired slightly more punch than previously. I particularly enjoyed Neal, And Jack And Me. Phew - that song really moves at a pace.

Started reading Conspiracy Culture by Peter Knight a few days ago. It's a survey of our need as a society for conspiracy as way of rationalising events and takes in some notorious political assassinations, AIDS, the growing belief alien abduction (and the popularity of shows like the X-Files) and the work of the American novelist Thomas Pynchon.

My first introduction to Pynchon's work was via his epic novel Gravity's Rainbow. Reading it felt being assaulted by a bewildering mass of ideas and connections which I barely managed to make sense of. Yet his writing was populated with humour (at key points several of the players burst into song) and the murky narrative surrounding a secret history of the Second World War in which corporate business was the real victor was enough pull me in a second or third time.

Around about the forth and fifth re-reading I began to get it and found myself wanting to devour everything else that the man had written. Thankfully at the time there was only his first novel V and his second, The Crying Of Lot 49 (featuring a beat combo called The Paranoids of course.)

The other day a news item struck me as being like something out of a far-fetched conspiracy story. . .

A few years ago a tabloid newspaper caused a scandal by printing allegations about Jeffrey Archer, a prominent supporter of Margaret Thatcher, the then prime minister, and best selling author of trashy airport novels.

The story alleged that Archer had slept with a prostitute and then paid her £2,000 to keep quiet about it. Archer strongly denied the story and sued the newspaper for libel. He admitted that though it was true that he had given the woman (who he claimed he had never met before) £2,000 via an intermediary, they had not had sex. He was simply being philanthropic.

Amazingly, the jury believed him and an outraged jury awarded him half a million pounds in damages.

The woman at the centre of the case, Monica Coughlan, was vilified. Not only was she a whore but she had the temerity to impugn the morals and character of a fine upstanding gentleman. The hard life of a working girl got a whole lot harder.And a new slang phrase entered the language.

Punter: Excuse me my good man, I'm interested in purchasing this splendid second-hand automobile. How much is it ?

Dodgy Dave from Dagenham : Well guv'nor I couldn't let this go for less than an Archer.

In the intervening years Archer did well. His cronies in the Tory Party slid him a peerage and he shamelessly campaigned to win the Tory candidacy for Mayor of London. During the tussle, it emerged that Archer had lied about his background and education and business improprieties around share deals and the like. None of it seemed to stick or if it did, people didn't care. The disregard which most voters hold politicians had lowered expectations to the point where it was almost expected that a bit of dodgy dealing was part of the spec.

His books were selling well and it was a very rare day when his chiselled features and bluff, no-nonsense words were not highly visible, dusting up a TV reporter or chat show host.

Things were going well until a friend admitted that he lied in the libel case. Then a second friend coughed to also lying for the Lord. This of course cast a major doubt on Archer's testimony that on the night in question, he not been enjoying the carnal pleasures but had instead been enjoying a meal with the said friend. The game was up.

It looked like Archer had committed perjury. The newspaper which had first published the allegations and had been suckered out of half a million shouted "WE WOZ WRONGED". Then they said "WE WANT OUR MONEY BACK !"

The Crown Prosecution Service were looking into the matter. Archer was forced to withdraw his candidacy for the Mayoral race and was soon expelled from the Tory party. The press were once again full of Archer but now as disgraced liar and hypocrite.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided there was a case to answer and the a date was set for trail. Archer managed to find some creative impetus out of all his trouble and authored a stage play, in which he made his acting debut playing a character who was in court and on trial. The twist in that part of the story was that each night, the audience would have to vote on whether he was guilty or not.

Not surprisingly, the prostitute at the centre of the story - Monica Coughlan - emerged from her provincial obscurity and re-told her tale. At his first appearance at the Old Bailey at the end of last year Lord Archer pleaded not guilty. The trail of Archer is due to start in a few days time. You might expect the mother of one and ex-prostitute Coughlan to be playing a role in the court proceedings. But you'd be wrong.

Last week she was killed as her car was hit by a stolen car which was speeding away from a robbery. Police have arrested the driver of the stolen car.

Maybe I should stop reading books about conspiracy. Wasn't it William Boroughs who said something about a paranoid person is someone who is in possession of all the facts ?

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

A Night Out With James Ellroy

The literary Hewitt went to see the writer James Ellroy in conversation last night. Sounds like fun reading Sean's account.

Sean writes It was more like a performance than a reading, although he did deliver three sections of his new book The Cold Six Thousand ("My latest book. It is a masterpiece. It is the successor to all my previous books, which were all masterpieces, and the precursor to my future masterpieces.")

A lot of it seemed like Ellroy bingo - or it would have done if I was as familiar with Ellroy's interviews as am with "some people's" - but hugely entertaining. Hearing Hunter S. Thompson, William Burroughs and Charles Bukowski dismissed as "three lazyass, sloppy beatnik motherfuckers who can't write and have absolutely fucking nothing to say" makes for a great night out in my book.

The film of LA Confdential ("a crackerjack movie but it is not as good as the book and the performances of Kevin Spacey and Russell Crowe are over-rated"), Bobby Kennedy ("the greatest crime-fighter of the 20th century"), Martin Luther King ("the greatest American of the 20th century"), Oliver Stone's JFK (no comment apart from "bullshit!" and a certain hand gesture), former New Orleans DA Jim Garrison, on whose conspiracy theories JFK is based (no comment at all - just the hand gesture) and contemporary crime writers ("I don't read any who are writing now") all came in for commentary, as you can see.

There was an odd bit where he worryingly declared "before anyone asks" that he liked George W. Bush and had voted for him. In response, someone asked him if he'd be invited to play baseball at the White House. Without a blink, he picked up a copy of his latest book and said: "Are you joking? There's NO WAY George Bush could make it through a book like this!" So he may like him, but isn't totally convinced IQ-wise, obviously.

The best bit was at the book signing, though. I was just getting a couple of books signed (just a squiggle, sadly) and a group of old dears - all fake furs and pearls - walked past, smiling brightly at Ellroy, but obviously not stopping to buy a book. He smiled back, but said under his breath: "Look at those cheap pricks!" Then, louder (and I mean much, much louder): "Come back and buy books, you cheapcocksuckers!"

He was smiling at them the whole time. They couldn't have failed to hear him (people heard it far further away). It was dead good.

Next month, Nick Hornby's coming. I wonder if he'll call anybody a cocksucker, a prick or, indeed, "pederasts, perverts, pantysniffers and pimps" as Mr Ellroy addressed his audience(not once, but three times)?

Cheers
Sean

A little after six a.m. I walked down to the end of the street with a cup of tea in hand and surveyed the sweeping arc of the bay. Gorgeously warm sun, deep blue sea and bright blue skies. The whitewashed lighthouse gleaming. Cars buzzing past. Thrushes flitting about nearby and gulls wheeling overhead. Hissing waves lapping below.

I looked down and one of out cats - currently trading under the name of George Ted - was sitting beside me having followed me down. Two crows alighted on the railings catching George's eye. Immediately, he dropped into low down hunter mode, his eyes fixed and intent on bad deeds (assuming you take the bird's point of view on this question.) Of course it all came to nothing. As George made his ravenous lunge, one of the birds let out a rasping and incredibly loud caw that stopped the cat in his tracks. The two birds then hopped off, no doubt in search of another hapless feline to taunt and bully.

Back home and attending to e-mails. This in from Sean Body at Helter Skelter raises a smile.

I do have to say though Sid, that I have heard the "It really needs to be two volumes" before. If we have to go a few thousand over the limit, no problem, but in publishing Less Really Is More.

Of artists that have 2 vol biogs there are the following:
Lennon
Elvis
That's it.

I know you've got great material, and I know there will be a lot of demand, but if biogs of Yes, Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zep. Floyd et al can fit into one vol, then Crimson certainly should. Don't worry, we will ensure all the good stuff is not edited out!

OK OK - I've calmed down. And then things don't quite seem as grim and glum. Reading through Sean Hewitt's edit of the LTIA chapter this morning and it works really well. And yes, something of the music comes through. Yee-haa.

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

The Novelty Of Phone Calls

Back on-line. Debbie and I robbed Peter to pay Paul but in the end we told Paul to eff off and we paid the phone bill instead. Quite a novelty to be able to make phone calls again. I'd fallen out of the habit.

It's a gorgeous sunny Vaughan Williams kind of day here in Whitley Bay. Bright blue skies and rolling clouds. A light stirring breeze. Think of the first four minutes of Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis and that'll just about do it.

Logging on, I discover kerjillions of e-mails waiting. Some of them aren't from scantily clad girls ! I'll start wading through them tonight -the e-mails not the girls.

Read through most of what there is of the book over the last couple of days and came away from it feeling profoundly depressed. There are several reasons for this. A lot of it comes across as joyless whine which doesn't quite explain how thrilling Crimson's music is. The main reason for this is largely due to the nature of my questioning of the subjects. Perhaps it'd be better to go back to several of them and ask how good the music made them feel. Looking back, I can see where my questioning was leading some of them. And some of them didn't need any leading at all.

However, overall it feels sullen and huffy. This is not quite the Crimson I expected to find. But it is another side to Crimson which has a validity and tells its own story about the passion which being a member of King Crimson elicits. I just need to make sure that the adrenaline joy which is found in Crimson's music comes through.

Spoke to Robert at some length the other night (we were still able to receive incoming calls - even from as far a field as Nashville. His commentaries on the chapters have been enormously helpful in correcting several factual errors which have crept into the text. They've also prompted some extra lines of enquiry for me to follow up. It's no exaggeration to say that the energy and time which Robert has put into the project so far has been invaluable.

As is the time and energy which Sean Hewitt has been putting into the thing. We talked last night. Sean has been ploughing through the book and has so far managed to take out around 17,000 words out of the text. This isn't the final draft but a step toward the first draft. Sean's version is a sharpened and more focused rendition of the book. That said, we are still way over Helter Skelter's 100,000 word count. By the time we add in the 80's and the Double Trio and the ProjeKcts and the new configuration, my worry is it will be reduced to little more than a series of bald summary that any fool could string together.

More negotiations with Helter Skelter are needed. The problem of upping the word count in one single volume from 100,000 to say, 172,000 is that the production costs go up, the interior lay-out will be compromised and the author's royalty rate gets squeezed. The other option (as discussed in this diary some time ago) is to split the book into two separate volumes. This would at least allow all the stories and voices to have the kind of space I think they need and deserve.

The view from Helter Skelter is that a second volume which dealt with the 80's up to the present just wont sell as well as the first one. Which might be right.

Another option is to publish the unused material on the sidsmith.com website but frankly that doesn't quite do it for me. I much prefer the tactile experience you get with a book (or two). Lots to talk about with HS on my next visit to London.

One of the funniest occurrences during my off-line absences was when Debbie answered the phone but didn't immediately recognise the voice at the other end of the line. She quickly decided that it was none other than the Great Kimbrini of leafy Highgate mucking about (he does that a lot).

Debbie : That's young John isn't it ?

Voice With Dorset Burr: I can assure you it's not.

The big news from the Kimberman himself is that he's going to have a one man exhibition in leafy Highgate in July. Even better than that, he's invited me down for the week to help out. I have to say I'm wildly excited at the prospect and can't wait to get down and rummage through the paintings with JK. Hanging an exhibition is always a slightly mysterious experience. What you think will work together often doesn't when you get them up on a wall. It's always a good idea to have a second opinion as a kind of reality check. More details on the gallery and the dates when I get them.

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