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Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Moral Panic

Beautiful sunshine and high temperatures made bearable by being back near the sea. Watered the garden last night but needn't have bothered as it rained throughout the night. This morning it's all endless blue skies once again.

The UK media is currently being swept by a wave of self-righteous moral panic. The cause of this was a satirical programme called Brass Eye which did a spoof investigation of paedophilia. In the resulting torrent of outrage and calls for the programme to have been banned, Government ministers have joined the bandwagon. The absurdity of the situation was made manifest yesterday morning when on Radio Four, a junior minister described the programme as being sick and then admitted that she hadn't seen the programme - quickly adding that she didn't need to.

Channel Four and the programme makers have repeatedly made the point that Brass Eye was satirising the attitudes of the media and its reportage of paedophilia. That the media have reacted so violently, blustering with bile and indignation, it appears that Brass Eye has hit the target bang on the button.

Currently enjoying David Bowman's recently published biography of Talking Heads. It doesn't really touch on the music particularly but is hugely entertaining nevertheless. Also waiting for my attention next week is Alison Weir's biography of Henry VIII. Had a trawl through the first couple of chapters and it looks marvellous.

Debbie and hers are down in Wales and although we talk every day, I do miss her. On Saturday, Tom, Joe and myself will attempt to get on a train in Newcastle and get off, six hours later, at Bridgend in Wales. In times gone by, this would have been a mundane kind of journey. Since the privatisation of the railway network, the chances are that the train will either be cancelled or chronically delayed. Another variation is that the train might leave Newcastle on time but will only get a hundred miles or so before everyone on board has to get off and make an unscheduled change - thus losing our seats in the process. Whatever happens, we can be sure that the air conditioning on board will not be working.

One highlight of last week which I forgot to mention was that I heard Declan Colgan on the Today programme. The discussion concerned the lamentable state of the Mercury Music Prize. Even more lamentable however was a spokesperson from Mercury nominee beat combo - Super Fury Animals. The geezer - who's name escapes me - who played the monosyllabic pop star riff to perfection.

Interviewer: Well what do you have to say ?
Welsh Pop Star: Errrr. . . . I dunno . . . errr . . . music. . .err. . .(long pause as Empires rise and fall). . .

The silly season has begun.

Thursday, July 26, 2001

A Good Show

Leafy Highgate. . .

On the underground and a chap in front of me bursts into song at the very top of his voice. This musical outburst – a reggae-tinged version of “If I Ruled The World” came as a complete surprise to me and I guess everyone around him. We all shuffled off to the side and gave him plenty of room. He was smiling and was clearly very happy. He disappeared into the warren of tunnels leaving his audience bemused but otherwise unharmed.

This kind of behaviour obviously transgresses the standard conventions of what we regard as acceptable to judge by the collective reaction of my fellow passengers. You figure that this guy is mad and is therefore potentially dangerous. I often feel like singing in public – currently I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson – but my natural reserve fences me in.

Feeling grim and ghastly all day today and slept for a good portion of the day – much longer than I intended to. The cynical amongst you will rapidly conclude that my bout of incapacity was due to living the high life with Kimber. However, you’d be wrong. At Kimber’s opening last night I only drank one or two plastic cups of red wine and certainly not enough to be feeling as grotty as I do.

Kimber’s bash went very well indeed with an appreciative crowd of at least seventy discerning souls braving the sweltering heat. Needless to say it was the large blue series and the two large orange pieces which garnered the majority of favourable comments. Kimber was on meet and greet duties, so I skulked about taking photographs. World Leader Symes turned up with a bundle of Roxy Music albums for me to peruse at my leisure.

I also met Michelle who is one of Kimber’s acquaintances. She's in the coaching for change business and I could have listened to her speak all night. Michelle hails from Washington and has (for me) a wonderful voice / accent and great attitude. At one point during a lull in the chat I considered giving her my shopping list to read out but I figure this kind of intimacy might be open to misinterpretation.

Clearly a woman of taste she also bought one of Kimber's smaller paintings.

After the show was finished we tidied up – or rather Kimber and Maxine tidied up whilst I offered a kind of spiritual guidance. Ask them. They’ll tell you. Then it was back to Kimber’s to enjoy a post-match de-brief. Kimber was well pleased with the turn out and the numbers of sales he made during the night. And so he should be. It’s one thing to have a private passion and quite another to then put it on show to the public. In doing the show Kimber has made a move into another space although at this early stage the precise location and potential direction may not be immediately obvious.

Other bits of news . . .

Completed the article on Court for one of the monthly magazines and began work on another for a different publication. This next one will be on the making of Red. Both articles incorporate material, which I edited out of the book though their final shape is obviously in the hands of the editors of the respective magazines.

Finally marshalled a chapter plan for a novel, which has the working title of Photos Of Ghosts. Yes I know it’s the title of a PFM album but at the moment it works. I don’t have a publisher and of course it isn’t even written. At the moment it only exists in my head.

It's been lurking at the outer edges of my subconscious for several months but I kept it on the back burner whilst I was attending to Crimso. Once I find out what the plot involves, I’ll be the first to let you know. Is there much call for a detective novel based around the exploits of an Italian prog-rock band ?

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Homeward Through The Haze

Leafy Highgate. . .

Up and out of the house by 7.00 a.m. and the heat was amazing – even at this early hour. Kimber was off doing his coaching for change thang and I was heading off to Waterloo to get the train down to Salisbury and from there onto DGM. Hugh met me at the station and we sped off down the winding lanes and hedgerow. Once indoors we set about going through the archive of pictures, press clippings and various items of KC memorabilia.

On a previous visit I had earmarked an awesome amount of photographs for possible inclusion. Now however, I needed to radically prune things back and focus on those, which either illustrate a point in the book or haven’t been seen very widely. Once Hugh has dumped these onto CD for me I can sit with book designer Chris Wilson and work up the final selection from the 200 plus of images, which I’ve, have accrued. Then it’s into negotiations with Helter Skelter and between us we’ll then make a selection. On what I’ve got from DGM and what various Crims have donated, I think the book will look very handsome indeed.

The soundtrack to our visual musings was none other than the soundboards from the recent 12th & Porter shows by Crimson. We cranked the O’Donnell beat box up to 11 and rocked out. My first impressions of the new material was that the band seemed to be picking up where the ProjeKcts left off and then somewhere beyond that. There were some metal-clad monster riffs stomping around on those tapes. At one point Hugh and I just stopped what we were doing and gasped at some of the punches that were being delivered. The older material sounded good as well. The best version of Thela I think I’ve ever heard and Larks’ IV going from 0 to 100 after a count-in of two just sounded incredible.

We were on the verge of doing some wild bat-shit crazy idiot dancing when David Singleton joined us. We reckon the boys are onto something with this groove. As we chatted on the merits of the music, it was all I could do to keep my not inconsiderable tail-feather from shaking.

The excitement didn’t stop there. As I was saying my goodbyes to Laura, I saw my bus sail past the office window about fifteen minutes earlier than it should have done. Quick as a flash, we got in the Hughmobile and teared off after it. After much high-speed weaving we eventually caught up with the damn thing but given the narrowness and curvature of country lanes, had no chance of overtaking it. The plan was to get a good way in front, pull over and drop me off. In the end Hugh had to just drive me all the way back to Salisbury.

Once back in London I met up with Kimber and we headed to the Jazz Café to see David Crosby and his band CPR in concert. They played for over two hours and were wonderful. Crosby was the centre of gravity and he worked the capacity crowd to perfection. The music was played to wonderful although at times got a little gratuitously rocky.

Guitarist Jeff Pevar bore and uncanny resemblance to the lead blokey out of Cheers (Ted Danson ?) and UK game show / comedian Bruce Forsyth and he had to contort his face whenever he played a solo. This was only a minor distraction though in a set which played 50% new material and some golden oldies which stretched back as far as The Byrds. Seeing Crosby in such top form was an unexpected bonus. A very special evening indeed.

Monday, July 23, 2001

Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go To The Gallery

Leafy Highgate. . .

Just when you think you’ve got the angles covered. . .

With yesterday spent preparing the paintings and all the tools readied, we loaded up the Kimber mirth mobile and set off for the gallery on Highgate Hill. Well, we would have if Kimber’s car had actually started. At first I thought the Kimberman was having me on as is his frequent wont. Turned the keys and nothing happened. So, he lifted the bonnet and delved about. An empty battery.

So there was nothing to do but go back inside and await the arrival of the folks who jump and bump start cars. We had intended to get to the gallery at 11.00 a.m. We got in at 1.00 p.m.

We spent an hour playing around with the positioning of the various canvases. A strange experience for the Kimberman. In most cases, he’s only ever been able to see his paintings from a distance of about five-foot. Here in the large space, the canvasses and their content subtly altered and grew into their new surroundings.

There was also the business of realising that not everything was going to make it to the final edit. This was easy for me because I don’t the emotional attachment, which Kimber has to the work. I could just flounce about saying, “ no, this doesn’t work”, dismissing something in an instant which might have taken Kimber a solid month of hard work to bring to fruition. To his credit, Kimber accepted that not everything was going to make it and we generally agreed on what should be held back.

Then we went to pub for lunch to discuss the wall plan. Afterwards, it was the business of getting them up on the wall. It took over two hours of solid, unbroken work. Once we finished we were able to take stock of our labours. I was really only unhappy about the positioning of three of the smaller canvasses. Kimber was concerned about the corner section. We both figured the exhibition was about 90 % there. In my experience this is not a bad figure to go with a show.

Sunday, July 22, 2001

Selling Kimber By The Pound

Leafy Highgate. . .

Kimber and I spent a good portion of Sunday preparing canvases for the show. Essentially this involved fixing mirror plates on the back of the paintings – an otherwise tedious task made much easier following the acquisition of a powered screwdriver.

As I was whizzing the screws in, Kimber was entertaining some friends who aren’t going to be to make the show on Wednesday. So they had a look at what was on offer and then decided to buy on of the big, big blues. The show isn’t necessarily about selling the work but hey, it’s a bonus if it happens.

We got finished mirror-plating around three in the afternoon. It had taken about four hours to cover around 40 paintings. Our reward was a late, late breakfast at Banners, our favey food emporium in Crouch End.

Reading the Sunday Papers and the demise of Lord Archer. Now that he’s behind bars all the people are coming out of the woodwork to proclaim that they always knew he was a cheat and a chancer. Archer was able to get away with his dodgy dealings by a mixture of bullying and litigation. But he was also able to count on a culture of collusion. So “everyone” knew he was an unsuitable character for positions of political office but nobody did or said anything about it at the time.

More than anything else, the whole Archer fiasco raises some serious questions about the political and personal judgement of the some of the most senior figures within the Conservative Party. From Margaret Thatcher – who appointed him as deputy chairman of the Party – John Major and the luckless William Hague.

Eighteen years of Tory government led to a reckless indifference to matters of probity and standards – perfect conditions for an opportunist like Archer to flourish. Blair and New Labour would do well to pause and reflect on these events.

Landslide victories produce a cocky “we can do what like” euphoria, often leading to the detachment of the executive from the rest of the Party. I cannot believe that the majority of Labour MP’s have any appetite for privatisation of the London Underground for example. You only have to look at the disaster that is this country’s railway network to know how bad an idea this has been.

Let’s hope the Labour backbencher’s have the courage to kick up a fuss now rather than when it all goes wrong after the event. Sanctimonious platitudes and sermons are no substitute for policy and sycophantic torpor should not replace scrutiny and holding the executive to account

Saturday, July 21, 2001

Missing Debbie

Leafy Highgate . . .

Remco and Ada left today to go back to Rotterdam.. It’s been lovely seeing the pair of them again. I was hoping that Ada would forget the book on Yves Klein that she bought at Tate Modern but a quick check around the place shows that it must be safely in Holland.

The rest of the morning was spent with the great Kimbrini. We checked out the local and brand spanking new branch of Banners café and from there walked down into Crouch End. I was all for checking out the old branch of Banners café just by way of an A – B comparison but Kimber was having none of it.

We walked around picking up bits and pieces for the forthcoming exhibition this included; a ball of string, a box of mirror plates, two bags of nails, two boxes of screws, a powered reversible screwdriver, a set of printed CD covers and their boxes (for Remco’s music), some sticky dots, some italic pens, a spirit level, a steel ruler and the live BLUE cd at a bargain price.

Then it was back to Kimber HQ where I’m writing this entry. My host has hit the Kimber Lurve Pit whilst I remain awake to ponder the mysteries of life and other such worthy subject. It’s so beautiful and sunny and amazingly hot. The only cloud on the horizon appeared when Kimber announced that when he gets up from his power nap, he’s going to play me something by Carl Palmer. Suddenly, I feel the will to live ebbing from me.

Spoke to Debbie this morning and I’m missing her like crazy. She was round the next door neighbours last night – John and Jude – and had a great time. It’s fun being down here and I’m looking forward to Kimber’s exhibition but I do kind of want to be back home as well.

Met up with David Symes (that's him wearing my hat) last night for a couple of beers and had a nice time chatting about the latest state of play with things Crimson and Tool. We both think this combination would be wonderful to hear.

And now, since I am on holiday, I’m going to go and read some Saturday newspapers and then off to Border Books on Charing Cross Road for a serious bit of browsing. I love browsing.

Friday, July 20, 2001

Joy Unconfined

Soho. . . an internet cafe

London is hot and smoky today. Spent the first part of the day working on an article for one of the monthly music magazines. It's a fairly limited word count and the challenge has been how far to reduce the details before so they become little more than vague generalisations. This work was done in Kimber's office listening to Tool, Caravan and Bartok. They all seemed to help the whole thing along. By noon I was sore and stiff and needed to get out and so here I am.

Also answered some questions for Masa Matsuzaki concerning the origins of 21CSM. They are going to be used in a web site run by Toyota. The track is currently being used on a commercial advertising a Toyota car.

Yesterday was a day of great celebration. First of all, I met Maxine (Kimber's lurve babe) and we all surprised Remco and Ada who are also ensconced at Hotel Akimbo. It's been well over a year since we last met up and so we headed out to Bengal Berties for a slap up meal.

However, the real cause for celebration was the news that Lord Archer had been found guilty and sent down for four years. I got the word just as the news was breaking around mid-day yesterday as I was leaving Newcastle on the train. The hot news was delivered by fellow Archer watcher, Jakko Jakszyk. As Jakko pointed out to me, there is no joy in taking delight in the personal downfall and misfortune of others.

But in the case of Jeffery Archer, we're both prepared to make an exception.

Of course as Sean Hewitt was quick to remind me, I had predicted that Archer would get off. This was done on the basis of beleiving that the old boy network whcih operates invisibly behind most of this countries institutions would come to the resucue. Oddly they didn't. And this time, I'm glad to be wrong.

Tonight I'm off to meet World Leader Symes for a swift beer and perhaps pop in to see Sean Body at Helter Skelter. I have to admit that I'm buring with curiousity as to how he's finding the book. Of course, Sean has got more to do than sit around reading over the book. So, I guess I'll have to be patient.

Tonight Kimber is off to see a beat combo called Black Crowes and with a bit of luck I might get to meet up with Remco and Ada later for a movie or something.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

Looking Forward

Whilst the weather reports across the country were telling tales of howling gales and general mayhem, we in Whitley Bay have been languishing in a beautiful oasis of sunny blue skies. Well the bad weather finally found its way up here. Driving rain and roaring wind has decimated our modest garden although two poppies have miraculously retained their petals.

Got to bed last before midnight which counts as an early night these days. The last couple of weeks have seen just about every evening engaged in late night revisions and exchanging e-mails with Sean Hewitt at ungodly hours. This has been followed by early morning sessions resulting in sore bug eyes syndrome.

The result off all this work is that the book has now entered the next phase of it's long journey toward publication. Helter Skelter's Sean Body has said that he likes the preface and approves of the title of the book which is IN THE COURT OF KING CRIMSON. The evil Dr. Wilson has sent off what we think is the final version of the cover and all that remains to be done is to start work on the index.

I'm hanging back on creating the index until Helter Skelter come back with their suggestions for alterations and revisions. However, I'm unfamiliar with the process and always find my heart sinks when I have to use those drop-down help menus in Word. Urgh. I'd rather put my hand in a drawer and slam it repeatedly. Needs must though.

Made arrangements to meet up next week with Hugh O'Donnell at DGM HQ. We're going to go through my final selection from their photo archives. Whatever you might think about the written content of the book - it'll look great with many previously unseen photographs and items of memorabilia.

Also looking forward to attending Kimber's forthcoming exhibition of recent paintings at Lauderdale House in leafy Highgate. The show is called On Some Road and here's what the blurb from Lauderdale House has to say on the matter.

Avoiding overt narrative, Kimber prefers to let the viewer bring their own interpretation to the work - figurative moments, calm meditative pools or perhaps an involuntary portraiture in amongst the densely wrought layers of acrylic piled and scraped atop each other. Each painting represents the outcome of a very personal voyage - each one a stopover on some road.

Well I couldn't have put it better myself. If you're in London then get along to the exhibition at Lauderdale House, Highgate Hill, Waterlow Park, London, N6 5HG, telephone 0208 348 8716.

The show runs from Tuesday 24th July through to Sunday 5th August and the opening times are Tuesday - Friday 11.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m., Saturday 1.30 p.m. - 5.00 p.m., Sunday 12.00 p.m. - 5.00 p.m.

Monday, July 16, 2001

Remco Detained At Her Majesty's Pleasure

In the post today was a CD from Remco Helbers featuring the music he's composed for Kimber's forthcoming exhibition next week in leafy Highgate. Remco 's soundscapes have a grainy, organic feel to them and highly enjoyable. I'm sure they'll enhance the atmosphere at Kimber's preview night.

The envelope in which it arrived also contained a note from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise. It read;

We chose to have your letter / packet opened by the Post Office as part of our selective checks for prohibited goods which are sometimes concealed in letter mail. This is the only reason it was opened and we assure you that the privacy of correspondence is always respected.

E-mails from Robert, vast toings and froings between Nottingham and Whitley Bay and I miss a phone call from Alan Cowderoy who used to be in a band called Gracious. Alan has a great story to tell concerning the time Gracious shared a bill with Crimson in 1969. I know the tale via Jakko I just need some details. Hopefully, there might still be time to slip this into the book.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

God Only Knows

Sunshine after the rain. 7.00 a.m. standing in the garden - a wonderful burst of colour - looking down at the silver sea. Blue skies stretching out forever. This is something to behold. Utterly mundane yet capable of re-charging low batteries in a flash.

Over the week-end my listening has been totally dominated by The Pet Sounds Sessions by The Beach Boys. Chris Wilson - a big BB fan - loaned me one of his copies of the said box set and its been a joy to hear this material being constructed and assembled. After only four or five hours of playing it, I heard my son, Tom singing God Only Knows.

I first heard that particular song on the radio when I was a wee nipper growing up in amongst the shipyards of Wallsend. At that age I couldn't know the subtleties of its assembly or the mechanics involved which made it all work and stay afloat. But the feeling of reverie it induced - particular in the last verse with the angelic arrival of those flutes - transported me and caused huge, tremulous emotions to well up inside me.

I never owned a copy of this song until about two years ago. Up until then, the encounters with it were sporadic and random and well outside my control, dependant on visits to other people's houses or shooting through the radio stations. This gave the song a kind of luminous, ethereal quality. It wasn't so much listening as witnessing a manifestation.

Now of course, I can put it on anytime I want to, even though I rarely do. I can't honestly say that I ever consciously think "I want to listen to 'God Only Knows' right now." So I still catch it when I can and this has preserved some of the mystery of it all. The arrival of Chris Wilson's box set changed all that. I put on disc one and steadily worked my way through to disc three, reading the accompanying books, pondering, skipping back and forth and pressing repeat several times.

Even after all that and having delved into it's archaeology, the song emerges undiminished, somehow greater than the sum of its parts. It's a truly sublime moment that, in DGM diaryspeak, speaks directly to me and takes me somewhere which I acknowledge is partly nostalgic but is also inspirational and grand.

You don't have to believe this but I felt cleansed and lifted by listening to it. And if you think that this is tosh - well that's your problem not mine. I'm just telling you how it is for me. Utterly mundane and yet totally transformative.

Meanwhile. . .

Chris has revamped the cover of the book and personally, I think it looks stunning. These are not radical overhauls but rather small additions and subtractions which subtly alter the look, the feel, the message. Then you stand back and see a new version. It was there all the time but it needed that sifting to bring it to the surface.

Elsewhere. . .

A lightning bug whipped through both my sons on Friday causing Joe to wilt on a run to the toilet. It caught up with Tom about six hours later but thankfully doesn't appear to have reached anyone else. Both are enjoying their recuperation and were back up to full strength by mid-day on Saturday.

The vast unending curtain of rain yesterday confined everyone to barracks. This was good actually, forcing the kids to fall back on old games and activities which normally get forgotten about. So, now my PC monitor is covered in modelling clay effigies. Moving from left to right they are; A big strawberry, a banana, a truck, a yellow star, a pear, a penguin (fabbo to the max courtesy of Alys) and a brilliant green snake which I've christened Portillo (it just seemed appropriate somehow).

About to go onto Sherlock Holmes mode with Mr. Jakszyk as worringly hirsute Doctor Watson. We talked on the phone the other night and went through some ideas for tracking down some archive material which would help the book along no end. Jakko sort of knows everybody and if he doesn't know them, then the chances are that he's worked with a geezer who knows them.

Other listening prior to the Beach Boys. . .

Theory Of Forms by Neil Sadler - playing Jazz Bastards (first track of great little album) has led me to create the Jazz Bastard Quickstep. Wriggle like a worm while simultaneously hopping in time with a horn accent that you've just missed because you were trying to follow the drums. Don’t try this at the top of a flight of stairs. Does this mean I like it ? Well, yes I do.

Crosswinds by Billy Cobham - one for old times sake. Two ideas mercilessly pedalled to moderate effect but great fun to listen to nevertheless.

The Yes Album - I never really knew this album until very recently. It tries very hard to be all serious and complex but is actually just a big softy really. Highly enjoyable and a good laugh.

Thursday, July 12, 2001

Tom On The Mend

Up and down all night with Tom who was coughing like there's no tomorrow. This morning he's groggy, shaky but otherwise fine. I've noticed a correlation between changes in the weather and his condition. When we get galeforce winds his asthma and mine is always triggered. Not scientific but the best you're going to get from me at this time of the morning.

Earlier in the night for an hour or so there was a wonderful current surging between KimberHQ, the yellow room and RemcoCentral. Remco is busy producing the music and the CD covers for Kimber's impending exhibition. In a pathetic weazly way I've managed to get in on the act by providing some words - inspired by JK's paintings- which will be put on the back cover. !

It was a great way of working. I looked at some of Kimber's paintings, wrote the words, sent them off, got some feedback from Remco and Kimber and within an hour an e-mail from Remco with the finished artwork - Quick or what ????

Without wanting to get all "blueygreeny" - as Kimber calls it - it felt very empowering and stimulating working like that and with that kind of support. As I experienced it, I realised how rare it is.

Going up to Walker later on to see Chris Wilson and look at some scans that need doing. Also heard from Hugh O' Donnell about sorting out a date for my impending visit to DGM. This is to finalise the photographs needed from the DGM archive.

I hear on the news that the trial of Lord Archer is nearing its conclusion. Long term diary readers will know that Lord Archer is none other than Jeffery Archer - best selling author and political hobgoblin on the right of British politics. He famously hands-out £2,000 pounds to a woman who he doesn't know and when a newspaper suggests he's been consorting with prostitutes, he wins substantial sums of money in a libel case.

Only trouble is that he got his friends to lie about his whereabouts on the night in question. Years later in a pang of conscience -and revenge - his chums spill the beans and Archer ends up facing a trial for perjury. A couple of days before the trial is due to begin, the woman who received the money in the first place - and who was at the time a prostitute - is killed in a bizarre hit - and - run accident. The latter event merely being a tragic accident and not in any way related to the Archer case.

And strangely I had this e-mail sitting in my in-tray this morning.

Dear Mr. Smith,
I dictate in haste as I cruise effortlessly at 130 mph on the way to a re-spray bid for my Maserati Bora. Yes, time is tight as I finish final preparations for my entry in the World Championship Vintage Car Rally from London to Acapulco, and lunch our Michelin three-star beckons. Nevertheless, I felt it important to respond to your misguided, erroneous, and amateurish attempts to impugn the flawless integrity of one of the mightiest men in civilisation, Lord Archer of Weston-super Mare.

I represent JAPE, the Jeffery Archer Protection Endeavour. Our operatives have clearly identified a pattern of harassment and witness intimidation surrounding the current circus of a trial in the Old Bailey of our esteemed colleague, and this pattern has been in place since September of last year. I know you are not aware of these discoveries and you are merely parroting the inane and powerless rantings of the traditional Labour member, but it is important that I take time out of my extremely focused and profitable day to assist you to see the light. It is on the right.

The petrol shortage was the first point in time we saw that Mr. Archer would be a target. Tony Blair, worried that the deal he struck with the farmers and hauliers might backfire once the deadline to lower taxes had arrived, arranged to deflect this criticism in time for the General Election by targeting a wealthy, successful, and world-famous conservative celebrity such as Mr. Archer. The results of the recent election have shown this despicable tactic to be effective and well-planned. FU and I have lamented this approach and are discussing ways to counteract such less-than-honourable tactics in the future as we struggle to defend our mighty friend.

I understand that you are showing great promise as a writer and biographer of a pop act, King something or other. Dorothy and I prefer Sandie Shaw and Sir Cliff, but I do realise that there are such acts about and we do wish you the best in your little project.

Yours truly,
Nigel D'Ming-Toft

Prediction: he'll get off with the charges - either now or on appeal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Review: BPM&M

Since the last diary entry I've been grooving to the sounds of the BPM+M. Pat M sent me through a copy and boy does it groove ! Deep furrows of percussion with subterranean bass thrumming in the strata below threaten household crockery not super-glued to shelves in the vicinity. Up top there's skittering flashes of guitar squalling above it all like an electrical storm, while voices scud in and out of the aural picture. This is an indecently exciting collection of beats, grooves, pockets and blistering lead lines. After the CD finished, I was exhausted. Really. I'm not sure when this album is released but if you're interested in getting another perspective on how things Crim can go then buy without delay.

Established contact with Jack Kimberac, aka the "great" Kimbrini aka John Kimber down in leafy Highgate. El Akimbo was all of a lather. He'd sent me a picture of the lurve of life in a kind of show-offy, lick-my-eyebrows kind of way. And with good cause. Maxine (for it is she) is indeed a babe ! I'd reckon about point ten on the Babalacious scale were such a scale to exist. Oddly enough Kimber tells me it does exist.

As he talked about her, I noticed his bottom lip was protruding in an alarmingly simian way. It began to be covered in a fine but highly visible trace of spittle which moved sideways as his head lolled, gathering conveniently in the corner of his mouth. I counted myself lucky that this was a telephone conversation and not real time. All of which means he's got it bad and, in this case, it's good.

He's also getting ready for his exhibition which is coming up in a couple of weeks which I'm hoping to get down to London to see. Moving sideways, Remco Helbers is providing a soundtrack for the actual exhibition making Kimber appear to be a multi-media kind of guy.

Remco lives in Holland and we three met when we were all on a Guitar Craft course a couple of years ago. Remco plays Stick and is the tallest Stick player I've ever seen. Actually if Travis Hartnett played Stick then he'd be the tallest. Mind you, if you take this approach, if King Kong played the Stick then he'd be. . . oh dear. Where's my medication ?

So Kimber and I hatch plans to get the KSF team a'rockin' and a'rollin' in the very near future which means I get to meet Maxine and find out where her fixation with Frank Dobson look-alikes started.

In the post this morning a card from Jamie Muir. I'd recently returned some materials Jamie had loaned me for use in the book. And earlier in the week I chatted with John Wetton regarding a couple of points and several e-mails from Robert and Bill.

Also an avalanche of e-mail from Sean "I'm not the Sean from Helter Skelter" Hewitt from Nottingham. This means one of two things - Sean and I need to get out more or that we are tackling revisions, omissions, deletions and late inclusions. Actually probably both are true.

Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Interviewing Paddy Spinks

It's been a gorgeous couple of days in Whitley Bay. Beautiful sunny hours with the kids roving about in the garden. The latest craze has been to investigate the little balls of frothy spit that have accumulated on the underside of shrubs and flowers. Round these parts we call them Cuckoo spit or Larks' Spit. Once I told the kids that these items were inhabited by little leaf-hoppers there was no stopping them.

For the rest of the afternoon they rounded up everything that had more than two legs. I have to say the cat took the whole indignity of being gathered up by a bunch of little oiks with remarkable reserve. Once we'd established that felines don't count the day was taken up with identifying each individual critter as best we could with the aid of a big, lavishly illustrated book on identifying insects.

The garden is looking lovely. Debbie and I now realise that there's more to planting out a garden and bunging in the new plant anywhere, anyhow. There's factors like height, colour and distribution to consider - which we didn't. So we plan to move a lot of plants around in time for next year which might mean we get a whole bunch of Iris flowering all at once to much greater effect rather than the odd isolated burst of colour. Ditto with the Gladioli.

The poppies which came calling several years ago are all starting to flower. It's interesting that you have three gardens next to each other but each with completely different species of poppies present. We plan to snaffle a choice selection from the neighbouring seeds and go for the big mix.

We all went off to see the new movie Shrek which had a sequence featuring one of my favourite Leonard Cohen songs - Hallelujah. So that was an unexpected bonus.

Also at the week-end I talked to Paddy Spinks who used to be Crimson's manager during the 80s. Paddy was a joy to talk to and gave me some useful insights into the dynamics of the band at that time. Of course all of this meant another re-write of the those particular chapters but I think it'll have been worth it. For me, his additional comments made those parts really get up and fly. Apart from some points of clarification from Adrian which I'm waiting on that section is now finished. Hallelujah.

The ether between Nottingham and Whitley Bay was buzzing last night as Sean and I exchanged other final drafts of chapters following revisions and amendments. Sean also came up with some chapter titles which made me laugh out loud. If I tell you that The Great Receiver was about the only one that is printable on this diary, it gives you a good idea as to how warped and addled years of editing newspapers has made him. It was Sean you'll recall who came up with some wizard marketing schemes for DGM. The one I liked best was his DGM wrapping paper emblazoned with the aphorism "Discard The Superfluous." I can't figure why DGM didn't go for that one.

Late arrivals in the night also from Bill Munyon who sent on further recollections on the making of TCOL. More cutting and splicing today.


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