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Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Rubbed Out

The sky has that rubbed out look this morning. It's as though the deep blues have been patiently and carefully erased to leave a thin translucent veneer. Padded back to the kitchen and fed the cats, washed the dishes left over from last night, made a pot of tea and then woke the kids up.

The sense of gloom I felt last night hangs about me like a bad smell. Actually, it might just be a bad smell. Probably it's the thread of uncertainty which is unravelling about the house at the moment. Spoke to a sleepy Deb as arranged and that cheered us both up a little.

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

Another Day on the Long Road

It's gone 11.00 p.m. and I'm listening to Late Junction. Feeling tired and feeling slightly down in the dumps. The crux of it is that I'm missing Debbie and although we've spoken on the phone tonight . . .well it's just not the same.

Her mother is off the ventilator but Debbie was very distressed watching her fighting for every breath. This is now the second day where she hasn't deteriorated. It's going to be a long road. In light of this slightly improved situation, Debbie thinks she might get back home for the week-end. Here's hoping the situation improves enough to allow her to do that.

The boys had another good day at their new school. This morning we walked along Whitley Road and it took us sixteen minutes from door to door. At their old school, the journey would normally have taken about an hour including a thirty minute bus ride. Gorgeous sunshine all the way and the boys feeling very upbeat about it all, bless 'em.

Monday, October 29, 2001

Worries and Uncertainties.

Spoke to Debbie. Her mother is still on a ventilator and remains gravely ill. The good thing is that she didn't get any worse than she was the day before. Thus there may be some evidence that she is beginning to stabilise. Debbie remains realistically optimistic about her mother's prospects. She also intends to remain in Wellingborough for most of the week.

As a result of her absence, Alys haunts the house, morose and disconsolate. Sam freshly returned from his father's house in Birmingham seems far more stoic and is - as is the way of most teenage lads - less reliant upon his mother's presence.

It's uncertain times for Tom and Joe as well. Today they started at a new school in Cullercoats. Talking to them yesterday, they were split about the coming move. Tom is the more introspective of the two but was remarkably upbeat about it all. Joseph is less than convinced. I waved them off this morning watching them enter the school - the new boys unsure where things were.

Then I spent the entire day wondering about how they'd got on and when it was time for me to get the Metro down to pick them up I had a sense of sickly apprehension. Happily they burst out of the school gates with beaming smiles and full of stories about the day.

The really wonderful thing for the boys and myself was that instead of a frantic dash to the bus stop and then a half hour ride from Forest Hall to Whitely Bay, we simply ambled the ten minute walk home. Joy unconfined.

Tonight I cooked a grand roast dinner for the assembled throng of Sam, Alys, Tom and Joe. It was strange feasting without Debra being around. We're all missing her.

Spoke to Sean Hewitt tonight. I'd done him a mystery tape a week back and tonight he was ringing in with the results of his deliberations. The only trouble was I didn't make a note of what tracks I'd sent him and his descriptions of some of the music didn't ring any bells with me. In the end Sean had to get his cassette player and play the tracks over the phone so I could identify the artists concerned. Doh !

And now - a request.

It would be helpful to know how many folks are thinking about coming along to the book launch on 30th November I need to get a sense of how many people are likely to turn up so I can enter into discussions with the landlord of the Royal George (the pub over the road from Helter Skelter) about booking the downstairs room.

The pub gets pretty busy so having access to the room means we'd be able to have a pint and a natter in relative peace and quiet. Of course if only three people and a dog are coming along then I needn't worry about any of this. Anyhow, drop me a line at the usual address expressing your deep-felt desire to attend what in all likelihood will be the best Crimson related event to be organised on that particular date !!!

Listening To. . .
Futura Live 3.11.99 by Futura
Portrait In Jazz by Bill Evans Trio
Eastern Sounds by Yusef Lateef

Saturday, October 27, 2001

Difficult Times For Debbie

A vast blue sky occasionally dotted with white clouds. The garden slowly warmed by strong sunshine. Although it's almost the end of October, a poppy flourishes alongside a crop of blazing marigolds. The grass is glazed with dew. . Cats of various ownership sit on our fence enjoying the heat, aloof and indifferent to my attempts to make polite conversation. The sea is a flat calm mirror.

I pad around, feed our cats and hang out the washing on the line in the back yard. Purple lobelia still trails from the hanging baskets. It's a little after 7.30 a.m.

Debbie is still in Wellingborough. Her mother is gravely ill and on a ventilator after undergoing surgery which removed much of her colon. Debbie sounded reasonably strong when we spoke although the prospects of a recovery seem uncertain at this stage.

The nursing staff assure Debbie and her sister, Dude that the ventilator will give her mother's body the time it needs to conserve itself and build up some strength. Debbie remains unconvinced by this and points out that since being admitted to hospital over a week ago, her mother has progressively deteriorated.

In the meantime, Debbie's daughter Alys had to travel back from London with me whilst her son Sam, is returning from his father's house in Birmingham later today. Debbie expects to be away for another few days at least. She's also regarded by everyone else as the strong one in the family down there and I know she finds this something of a drain. It's fallen to her to comfort her sister and her mother's partner and attend to the mundane aspects of running the house. So this is an added burden on Debbie at this difficult time.

Grief and anxiety does strange things to people and pushes them into places of discovery and reserves which they may not have been aware of. Certainly, a testing time for all concerned.

Talked to Kimberman who was in darkest Kent last night. He urged me to get busy e-mailing the Yes, ELP and Genesis e-digests with news about the book's imminent release. This seems like a good idea and I'm pleased I came up with it ! Is there anybody out there who receives these digests and could send a post telling the folks about the book ? Let me know and I'll give you some blurb to post on my behalf.

In amongst the mountains of post I received a parcel from Hik at Virgin Record (via Declan Colgan) which contained some VDGG goodies and the new version of Damage. I'm looking forward to hearing this stuff. Also mountains of e-mail and phone messages of a Crimular nature to be attended to in the next day.

Today, I need to do somoe shopping as there is no food in the house whatsoever.

Tuesday, October 23, 2001

London Calling. . .

A great day out in London after meeting up with my sister Lesley and her husband Bernard and Errin and Isaac – who represent two out of a possible three nieces and nephews. We went to see the London Dungeons which were full of horror and gore – ahhh the good old days. Whilst waiting to get into the place, we accepted an invitation to have our photograph taken. The boys jumped at the chance to do their old dad in and were in high spirits as we entered.

Tragically, the fun was short-lived; Tom and then Joe went white with shock within minutes of each other with Joe finishing off with the old Technicolor yawn and Tom having to sit down outside in the fresh air. Why this happened I don't really know. Perhaps it was something to do with the fact that the blokey was explaining in graphic detail how they used to remove tongues.

Anyway the laddo's recovered to such an extent that a visit to the cafĂ© was well applauded by all concerned. From there it was a riverside walk along to Tower Bridge, enjoying the impressive London skyline. The kids swashed their buckles on the replica of Francis Drake's Golden Hinde – which is a famous ship of some kind rather than an anti-social pre-disposition. Avast me hearties and all that.

As we took a break to much on some bagels and the like, I got a call from Debbie who left us earlier in the morning to return to Wellingborough where her mother is in hospital. Although they have yet to come up with what might be a definitive diagnose of her illness, they are now very concerned at her condition. They've said they are going to perform an operation to investigate further. Naturally Debbie is very concerned and distressed. Her mother's state has worsened since Debbie's arrival on Saturday.

Later in the afternoon we went over to Tate Modern and wandered around the vast galleries for an hour or two. There was too much to see in the short time we had available to us. The kids were just desperate to get to the shop to buy some tat for a quid. Wonderful stuff though.

Monday, October 22, 2001

Exposure

Leafy Highgate . . .

Got to London with Tom and Joe and met up with Debbie. We all went off to Baker Street and did the Planetarium and Madame Tussauds. Great stuff and I got to have my piccie taken with Shirley Bassey thus fulfilling the ambition of a lifetime. From there we headed off to Borders and then off to Banners Restaurant in Crouch End.

We met up with the Kimberman and his fabbo squeeze, Maxine and her two kids, Timmy and Will. Great food and great chat. Back at Kimber central more chat, music and enough beer to fell Rasputin and several of his thirstier chums. Retired to bed sometime in the wee hours.

Of course after such prodigious consumption I was in need of a nocturnal visit to the Kimber pisser. As I stumbled about the place at around three a.m., I gave Maxine the shock of her life by almost bumping into her on the landing. She was up attending to one of her off-spring. Needless to say I was my elegant crepe de chine boxer shorts which I reserve for opportunities such as this.

Troutmask Replica for Beginners

The boys and I spent much of the week-end doing household chores, shopping for our trip to London and the like. During the course of Sunday - in between watching Indiana Jones movies - we've discovered a new house favourite track. I don't often play Troutmask Replica by Captain Beefheart but Saturday it seemed to be the right time and the right place. Almost the instant Ella Guru began to thlangle round the room the boys started up with a crazed idiot dance and declared it to be their absolute favourite.

This accolade generally means pressing repeat play on a fairly constant basis. I had thought they might tire of the colliding components of avant-pop but not a bit of it. Ella Guru has now displaced Peter Blegvad's Daughter (from the Jakko Jakszyk-produced Choices Under Pressure album).

Blimey - no wonder I'm looking forward to getting out of the house and off to London and Milton Keynes.

Today, in an outburst of irrepressible optimism, I take to the train with Tom and Joe in tow. It's the half-term holiday and the boys and I are off to London on a sight-seeing trip. We get into London at around mid-day and if there's a fair wind and the God's are smiling upon us, Debra will meet us on the platform at Kings Cross. From there, we are heading onwards and upwards to the Planetarium and beyond.

Spoke to Debbie late last night. She's been in Birmingham and with her mother, who is in hospital in Wellingborough . Debbie said she was shocked when she saw her mother - she's wasted away and in a great deal of pain. The various 'oscopy's and scans Doris has had to endure have not been able to provide any definitive account of her suffering.

So far they've diagnosed and subsequently discounted trapped wind, a hernia, an ulcer and an abscess. Debbie won't be travelling onto my sister's house in Milton Keynes but will be going back up to Wellingborough.

E-mail box was full of positive responses to the extracts of the book posted on ET and Krimson news. I'll get back to everyone who's written when I get back to the yellow room, which I estimate to be around Thursday.

Friday, October 19, 2001

Distracted

Grey mist creeping all about the street. The sea is invisible. A mournful fog horn echoes from the rocks around Brown's Bay. A gloomy, somnolent kind of morning. The children are grumpy and irritable and Debbie is distracted with the news of her mother's admission into hospital.

An e-mail from Sean "not the Helter Skelter Sean" Hewitt which goes like this.

Didn't make it to see Sylvian for the aforementioned ticket f-up reasons.

But the reviewer who DID go has let me borrow the programme, which is very flash - has a rigid cover, some of the usally "arty" pictures, etc - and mainly consists of a CD. This contains two music tracks - one very restful, with DS singing in what sounds like an Indian-esque language (5:56), the other harser, more self-consciously "experimental", with electronica and what sounds like telephone threeps & and female "spiritual" singing in another (?) unidentifiable language (3:10).

Sandwiched in between these is a track lasting 30:40 in which Sylvian answers questions which fans have sent to him. This drones on a bit, but has one point of interest for your KC Companion, when he's asked why he included Jean The Birdman and left Darshan off the new version of Damage.

He says: "I was simply trying to make the best of the material at hand in the time allotted. I felt the live version of Darshan* weakened the set considerably, its duration and lack of innovation. It tested my patience and I believe the album is stronger for its exclusion."

*(He actually says "Damage" rather than "Darshan" here but it's an obvious slip. The question is about Darshan and Damage is still on the new version of the album!)
So there you go!

Spoke to an old friend yesterday. He was very down and depressed. He was interested in my news but as we talked I felt guilty about being so upbeat and optimistic. My happy demeanour seemed to be indecent in the face of his clock-ticking slow gloominess. Levelling down, I changed tack and focused upon the bad things that were happening in my life. Then I just felt I was being gratuitously tokenistic.

His disconsolate state centres around getting old and the sense that his (considerable) artistic processes have all but dried up. He's suffering from creative impotence which goes far beyond a trite description like writer's block.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Face Painting

There's a painting which I've been working on for about two years. Not all the time you understand but in fits and starts. Last week-end I added a loop in black blue that ran across the surface from left to right. Then we turned the thing upside down for a different perspective. We all stood back somewhat astonished.


There lurking just underneath the pitted, scarred surface awash with waves and knots of colours, was an elongated head and shoulders. Quite distinct and highly visible. I got a brush and picked out the details and sure enough - a face. It's changed the whole painting. I turned it back up the right way and now the painting looks like a head and shoulders upside down. So, I've finally accepted that it’s a portrait of somebody. I just don't know who at this stage.

Good news is that Debbie's up and about and much recovered. Bad news is that Debbie's mum was admitted to hospital yesterday. She's being scanned tomorrow - they are looking for a blockage somewhere in her intestine. Debbie was already scheduled to be going down next week to see friends and family in the Birmingham / Northampton area.

I'm hoping to get down to see my sister and the kids in Milton Keynes. Tom and Joe are really excited at the prospect of travelling down to London and then out to MK. We're only in the smoke for a day but will hopefully take in a swift visit to the Planetarium and a couple of the other tourist sight which I never usually get to see when I visit.

Talked to Peter Giles last night who tells me that the forthcoming Brondesbury Tapes CD is well under way. I'm looking forward to hearing it. He told me that Jamie Muir had already signed the plates and that he was next. Got some feedback from the book extracts which were posted on Elephant Talk. Positive so far. Which is nice. Helter Skelter also tell me that advance sales are going well.

Just about to finished Alison Weir's biog of Henry VIII and poised to begin Benjamin Wooley's life of John Dee - called The Queen's Conjuror.

Listening to. . .

A Single Glass Of Water by Tik Tok (also known as Travis Hartnett)
Unhalfbricking by Fairport Convention
Vrooom Vrooom by you know who
Arbos by Arvo Part

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

A is for Anxiety

After the forthcoming half-term holiday, Tom and Joe are going to be starting a new school. Cullercoats Primary School nestles around the corner from the beautiful Cullercoats Bay. The school is about a fifteen minute walk from my house, which will mean an end to the 45 minute bus journey to school.

Yesterday was our first visit to the school and I have to say the boys were very brave as they were led off to meet their new teachers and classmates. I actually felt physically sick with anxiety; they looked so small and vulnerable. Two and a half hours later, they came bounding out at home time and declared themselves thoroughly impressed with the new surroundings.

Of course I was relieved that the visit had gone so well but I expect that as it sinks in that they are going to leave Ivy Road after all these years - and all their chums at that school - their glowing report might get a bit darker round the edges.

Last night whilst listening to Sir Henry At Rawlinson End by Viv Stanshall (I bought it for Debbie as a cheer-up present. It's one of her favourite albums) I began marshalling the headings for the KC companion. A is for . . .Asbury Park, Asia, . . . . .? Any other A's worthy of inclusion ? Please send to the usual address.

Debbie has been laid up in bed for the last couple of days due to a bout of flu-like symptoms. Typically she feels guilty about spending time off work with her colleagues having to cope with her work load. However, given that she once suffered a serious case of pneumonia about six years ago, we don't believe in taking chances - so she's on the liquids, bed and paracetamol routine.

Monday, October 15, 2001

A Fluttering in the Ears

Back in the late 1970's I was part of a little collective called the Tyneside New Music Group. We were a loose, ever-changing bunch of people united by a love of hardcore improvised music. There was really nobody in the north-east who was prepared to promote the kind of music which we were into. So, we did it ourselves.

For about three years, we put on a concert once a week sometimes featuring local, home-grown talent. When we were able to get the funding, we'd put together a programme of guest musician's from other parts of the UK.

Newcastle, then as now, was blessed with a very active and musically inquisitive student population, and without their patronage, attendance at our gigs would have been scant. An average turn-out for local musicians and performers would be as many as a dozen and as little as three. With the presence of a visiting dignitary from the free scene, the ranks would be swollen to twenty five or more. Somebody like Steve Beresford or Paul Burwell, etc could pull as many as thirty - forty.

After three or four years of sitting on the door taking the admission money, we all moved on the TNMG came to an end. Since the the appearance of improvised music in the city has been a fairly sporadic affair.

In recent years however, Jazz North East have begun to include more adventurous players in their normally conservative programmes and there is even a fringe off-shoot which actually specialises in improvised music.

So with all this history tingling in my veins, I went out to see sax player John Butcher play a solo set in Newcastle's historic Morden Tower. Butcher played with luminaries of the improvised / free scene such as drummer John Stevens, saxophonist Trevor Watts and guitarist Derek Bailey.

Standing in the tiny room, his playing caused the ears to flutter as he occupied the upper edges of multiphonics aided by circular breathing. Perhaps inevitably, the dynamics of his playing reminded me of Evan Parker, whose clipped abrasive style has long cast a shadow over sax players on the scene. Whilst sharing many of Parker's qualities and concerns, Butcher had a more lyrical aspect to his playing.

After an hour, he came to an end and received a generous applause from the eleven people in the audience. There were half a dozen more people present but they don't count as they were either the support group and / or the organisers.

What was significant was the amount of young women present last night. Five out of eleven is virtually unprecedented in my experience of going to free-form music events. Although I didn't carry out a consumer survey, they all seemed to be highly appreciative of Butcher's playing and at the risk of being blunderingly sexist, they all appeared to be there in their own right. Usually most women are long-suffering, dragged along by a rabidly enthusiastic and insensitive partner.

Sunday, October 14, 2001

Fun With Samuel Beckett

Went to the Newcastle Playhouse to see Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett last night. A great production I thought performed by Russell Hunter. Hunter was one of those minor British character actors that used to pop up in numerous TV productions during the sixties. I think he's probably best know for his role as the little cockney informer on the TV series Callan.

He was superb as the bitter old man, wrought with doubt, regret and uncertainty. His baleful glare was very reminiscent of the legendary comedian Max Wall who found himself starring in Beckett productions very late in his career and hailed as a serious actor. Beckett's world is a dark and lonely place, illuminated only under the harsh, unforgiving glare of memory and reflection.

So given, all of that, I was somewhat surprised when Alys, Debbie's 14 year old daughter who had come along with us, declared she loved the performance. Whilst there are comedic glimmers now and then in the monologue, it is fairly oblique stuff. Yet despite all of that, she thoroughly enjoyed Hunter's portrayal of Krapp.

Whilst in Newcastle yesterday, I picked up three albums in the bargain bins all for the grand total of £13.00. I'd never heard Brilliant Trees by David Sylvian before so I thought I'd give it go. Initial impressions are that it sounds a tad too studied and forced but I'm happy to go along with it this morning.

Also picked up a best of The Byrds album. Remarkably, this purchase represents my first album by this celebrated band. Listening to it last night as we made a pot of tea brought home to me just how much of a shadow this band has cast over all the Brit-Pop kids. Debbie and I spontaneously sang along with Mr. Tambourine Man but in cod Bob Dylan voices causing Alys to furrow her brow and stick her fingers in her ears.

The final pick was Peter Hammill's A Black Box. The world is divided into two halves:those that do like PH and those that don't. There's no middle ground. Debbie and I are on opposite sides of that dividing line. I just love the drama of his material. Certainly there are times when it's perhaps over-stretched but that voice . . .that voice. . .

Today it's grey and raining. I'm continuing the work I started yesterday on 18 small canvasses. Just layering them with colour. Not painting as such but preparing the ground. The big painting which started out two years ago called The Red Device continues to evolve. On Friday a dark blue line snaked across it from side to side. Debbie said it looked like Chad's nose. Yesterday it got ragged with a whitey-yellow which went some way to obscuring the dark blue line. Today it needs sponged with white but . . .I'm clean out of white.

Saturday, October 13, 2001

The Ham Falls Down On Broadway

I've seen Re-Genesis twice before and on both occasions it was in the smaller and more intimate venue of the now-defunct Dome in Whitley Bay. There you could hear the buzz of the amps and feel the push of the bass pedals in your chest all close up. Overbearingly loud, there was a visceral immediacy about their big-picture playing.

Last night they struggled to fill (metaphorically and literally) the more formal surroundings of Newcastle's grandly named Opera House, where they unveiled their re-creation of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.

It must be said that what they were attempting was something of a tall order. I saw the real thing perform two shows at Newcastle's City Hall back in 1975 and then this epic piece of Prog was staged with a complex three screen, multi-layered stage complete with a heady arsenal of light effects, gallons of dry ice, a huge wardrobe of costumes and er. . . a show-room dummy dressed in a white T-shirt and leather jacket.

Not having the capacity to stage such loss-making shows as Genesis, here their ersatz counterparts had to rely on their ability to re-create the music if not the visual elements of the piece. Their attempt to do a home-made version of the back projection screen (one not three) was probably a good idea at the time but failed to convinced and was at times frankly embarrassing.

There was an encouraging roar of approval from the crowd when the lead singer gingerly stepped on stage wearing a slightly limp version of the Slipperman costume. Even on Gabriel and in the context of the entire show, it managed to look more than a little ludicrous. Last night, minus the trimmings, its use seemed to emphasise just how much of a shoestring Re-Genesis were operating.

None of these shortcomings bothered the crowd who, on the whole, were highly indulgent and willing to forgive any wayward notes (the guitarist in particular was having a lot of trouble) or lack of special FX.

However, it seemed to me that in this setting Re-Genesis were punching above their weight and though they managed a game approximation of what a Genesis show might have been like, they seemed more akin to the historical re-enactment types you see populating the UK's ancient monuments during the summer months.

When I got in from the show, there was this e-mail from Peter Sinfield who recently read the blurb on the above ITCOKC link.

Hi Sexie Siddie,
Just when I thought I might venture to witness the Tawdry Tome tumble into the mythic sluices of Denmark Street I read this Hurble Blurble Boil and Dribble.

"In 1969 King Crimson came from nowhere to take the music scene by storm."

Ohhhhhhh... deary deary ... let us hope Pete Giles still has a sense of humour...

In space of a few short months,

(as opposed to the other sort?)

they delivered a ground-breaking performance supporting the Rolling Stones in London's Hyde Park,

Except - Actually that was one of the few times when they played from the rim of the water closet.

created the template for what would become Prog-Rock

So much for Hendrix, Captain Beefheart...etc etc...then.

and produced a debut record which occupied positions in the top five album charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

surely that should be assumed the position...?

Yeah i know you didn't write the above shite. It will serve you right if I still arrive and hackle.
Regards,
Peter.

To which I replied

You should see some of the shite wot I wrote on the inside of the book.
if you do turn up (which would be wonderful by the way) you can expect to be heckled back and at full volume.
Hope all is well with you and yours
Best wishes,
Sid

All of which goes to prove that you can't please some of the people any of the time.

Today Debbie and I stood and looked out over the Bay. Gorgeous blues in the sky and sea and a warm breeze. In our little garden, there are new poppies coming up and various flowers are re-budding. The air is chock full of green fly colliding and careering into anyone in the street. We have to remind ourselves that it's October.

Tonight we are off to see Krapp's Last Tape by Laughing Boy Beckett at the Newcastle Playhouse. That means that Debbie and I will have been out with each other three times this week !!!

Friday, October 12, 2001

Amelie: A Sumptuous Travelogue of the Heart

I've been listening to Vrooom Vrooom again in some detail. I have to be honest it's made me want to revise my opinion about the merits of the Double Trio. This is by far and away the best Double Trio release to date and has benefitted from a "proper" production as opposed to the interim mix which can be heard on the Broadway Club releases and Live In Mexico City download. As a result there's a far greater depth available to the listener (or to this listener at least) than previously available. One can more easily hear the different layers and lattice of sounds which mesh together.

This certainly shows that the Double Trio were a marvellous outfit and may well yet come to be regarded as the definitive interpreters of Crimson material. That said I still think the band failed to live up to its potential. Still this is an invaluable release and one which will be required listening.

A whole bunch of e-mails in from a variety of sources - these include Andrew Keeling who is hoping to get down to the book launch. When the notion of the book launch looked like it was going to be more of a convention type affair, Andrew had agreed that he might do a little talk about Larks Tongues. It's a pity that the book launch now won't be an appropriate venue for this now. I had the pleasure of seeing Andrew deliver a lecture to a group of music students in York a couple of years ago which was both entertaining and educational.

Went to the Tyneside Cinema last night with Debbie to see a great movie called Amelie. It was made by Jean-Pierre Jeunet of Delicatessen fame and was, ahem. . .a visual feast. We both came out feeling very charged up and happy.

As light and as refreshing as a summer breeze, it’s a whimsical, lyrical journey of a movie in which Amelie draws various characters together in order to bring about emotional fulfilment. She sees life very simply. If two people want to be together then what’s the problem? Of course, doing good deeds is all very well but we all want our girl to get what she deserves. And we are not disappointed. I love French cinema and how wonderfully self-centred and wholly irrelevant it can be. For me it's pure escapism. Don't worry about the plot - just revel in the colour and spectacle of each shot as it rolls by. This is not so much a film as a sumptuous travelogue of the heart. It looks good,it feels good and by golly, it does you good.

Meanwhile. . .

The news in the UK has becoming alarmingly infected with spin and propaganda. Every hour we hear things like "the enemy is on the run" and "Taliban troops are defecting." Simply go through any decent memoir of any conflict in the last couple of hundred years and you'll come across the same headlines. Bush's statement that "we are smoking them out of their caves" sounded at best optimistic to these ears and, I have to say wholly unlikely. Same Old Blues Again.

In the UK there is a story flapping around about a government spin doctor who wrote an e-mail to colleagues telling them it was a very good day to bury bad news stories - that is stories that would embarrass the government. Nothing unusual in that of course except it was September 11th and was written as both towers were burning. Sometimes words fail me. . .


Thursday, October 11, 2001

Swoon

Swooned over a double bass yesterday. Had a lovely tone and I'm sorely tempted to pitch myself into debt in order to get it. We've just finished paying off some debt and so technically, I could do it. Debbie of course might have a view about what we should spend the money on and its just possible that buying a double bass doesn't actually figure as part of her vision.

It had a great tone and I got a blister within a minute of playing it. Ah. . .honest toil feels good.

Heard back from Peter Hammill and looks like we are on target for the low-down on Exposure. I'm looking forward to talking to him about this and RF's contributions to VDGG material.

Helter Skelter told me that the limited edition run is more than halfway to being sold out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Damaged

7.50 a.m.

A series of difficult and depressing meetings at work yesterday. These were then followed by a series uplifting and positive meetings at work yesterday. Strangely enough though I felt somewhat mangled by it all.

In Newcastle very briefly. I see a copy of the newly re-mixed and re-issued Damage by Fripp and Sylvian. Didn't pick it up but did open it up to admire the packaging. Quite lovely.

Once home I sort of. . .slumped and could hardly stay awake. Debbie too. The pair of us yawning around the house with the kids laughing at how old and clapped out we appeared to be.

I attended to a couple of e-mails but that was as much as I could manage. Lots of e-mails from Pat Mastelotto and Bill Munyon sorting out some late photographic additions. Bed by 9.15 p.m.

Woke up at 6.30 a.m. to see a slate grey sky split open with a smouldering slit of molten orange over the sea. This kind of thing makes you go cold. Beautiful stuff.

E-mails to Peter Hammill this morning to fix up a date for an interview for FxF and Chris Wilson.

Tuesday, October 09, 2001

Falling Down In Public Places

Walking to Chris Wilson's house last night and I unaccountably fell my entire length hitting the ground with an earth-shaking thud. I did the thing of putting my hand out to break the fall which has resulted in a sore hand and strained arm overnight. Falling down in public places is not recommended. I lay there like a beached submarine, regaining my breath and letting the damage reports flick back and forth across the synapses.

My main worry was what if anything had happened to my back. Happily, it seems to have been unaffected. After what seemed like an age but was in truth only a few seconds, I rose up and hauled my sorry ass past The Fighting Cocks and into Chez Wilson.

About four hours later I'd finished marking up all the photo / collection credits. The job itself only took about two hours. The rest of the time was taken talking to Chris about Mercury Rev, Blondie and meeting up with old childhood friends and other sundry long-lost chums.

Speaking of which, I heard from my long-lost chum Tony Marshall last night who went to see Peter Hammill play in Norwich. His eye-witness account goes like this:

Sid
I'm just back from the Assembly House Music Room where I went to see Peter Hammill. Monday Night is computer evening class, but tonight I thought I'd make an exception.

I identified and introduced myself to Tim Bowness and he told me that he knew all about me from reading my e-mails to you on your on-line diary ! Anyway the cooker I wired up for him is still working, it's lasted 2 years now so the self destruct should be kicking in soon.

Tim, kindly, introduced me to PH after the show and I got him to sign my copy of Killers, Angels, Refugees that I'd taken along on the offchance. In case you don't know it's a book of lyrics, poems and short stories by PH from 1974 and it cost me the grand total of 80 pence - those were the days.

I had several erudite questions to ask PH, but when I finally got to meet him all I could manage to mumble was that he was one of my heroes. Ho Hum. So it goes.

I feel like I've been playing truant as today I've not been working as such, instead I've been creating my very first art installation, I've had today planned for a couple of weeks and I have been looking forward to it, but it still felt naughty to be working for pleasure instead of working for money.

When Tony and Clare were visiting, he mentioned that he'd been inspired by the work of USA artist Dan Flavin who did arty things with tube lighting. By spooky co-incidence, In Times Of Hope, the installation piece I'm currently working on involves a significant degree of electric lighting. My old mate Steve Cowgill (who is also a sparky) is building a prototype of the frame which will house the nine paintings.

Monday, October 08, 2001

The News Is There's No News

The bombing of Afghanistan has started. Any kind of military action is worrying enough but where the outcomes are uncertain and potentially open-ended is even more scary than usual. BBC Radio Four's flagship news programme has gone into overdrive despite the fact that there's little to report in the way of actual news. Instead they fall back to reporting speculation. I don't feel more informed as a result of all this so-called coverage but just caught up in a frenzy of dubious information. It's a place where objective news-gathering is infected with official spin.

Given the news of last night and this morning everything else seems rather pointless. How does the daily minutiae of the artist (or me for that matter!) compete against the unfolding of such titanic storm clouds ? The dealings of publishing the biography of King Crimson seem grandly irrelevant.

And yet. . .

Posted off a list of all the Crims participating in the signing of the hardback edition to Sean "Not to be confused with Sean Hewitt" Body. From an anoraks point of view I'm pleased that the signatures cover 1968 right up to the present day. For those who find this kind of thing important (and I, dear reader, am one of them) it'll add a certain frisson which makes shelling out £20 or £25 pounds well worth it.

Also posted extracts of the book to Mark Graham at the excellent FraKctured Zone web-site. Additionally sent off selected morsels to the team at Krimson News who should start posting in the not too distant. Expect even more examples of shameless marketing ploys designed to part you from your hard earned money in the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 07, 2001

Off The Rails

Now you can call a commie, pinko-liberal (as John Smallwood often does) but I'm pleased to hear this morning that the UK government is drawing up plans to take over the administration of Railtrack - the private company which maintains the infrastructure upon which our mighty network of clean, sleek and on-time privately owned trains run upon.

The notion of privatising the entire railway system of the country was a wizard wheeze dreamt up by Mrs. Thatcher when she gripped the reins of power back in the 80s. Regular readers of this diary will know of my feelings about this decision and its repercussions which have resulted in a depleted, filthy run-down, erratic service. And hey - it's also more expensive because the private companies have to make such vast improvements.

That's just the private companies which provide the trains. Since floatation in 1996, Railtrack - the company which provides and maintain the track and signalling operation - has seen the deaths of 42 passengers in a series of disasters between 1997 and 2000.

Despite announcing losses of £534m in May 2001, Railtrack continued to pay dividends to its shareholders.

In June this year Lord Cullen's report into the 1999 Ladbroke Grove disaster (which killed 31 people) highlighted what he called a "lamentable failure" highlighting the lack of investment in safety equipment. At the same time, Railtrack's boss Gerald Corbett received a thanks-for-services-rendered payment - totalling £860,000 - before taking up his post as the boss of Woolworth's. Now this morning, it sounds like time has run out for the privatisation experiment. I doubt we'll see a return to full-blooded Nationalisation but the days of unfettered "profit-before-people" ethos stands revealed as the discredited motivating force it always was.

And today I buy my rail tickets for Tom and Joe's forthcoming trip to London and Milton Keynes.

Talked to Ian McDonald last night just before we all went around to our next door neighbour's birthday party. Numerous kids indulged in hi-jinks frenzy of eating party food and doing daft things with drinks. As you do. I was pretty tired but managed an hour to be polite. A good time appeared to be in the process of being had. Sometime after 10.00 p.m., I managed to get Tom and Joe off to bed. As I read them their story they snuggled down happy/sad; sorry to have left the party but glad to be tucked up in bed.

Hilarious e-mails from Chris Wilson have me chuckling this morning. He was up until 4.15 a.m. listening to KC and prompting me to write addenda for the People section of the book. Blimey - this guy never gives up.

Saturday, October 06, 2001

The Right Time And The Right Place

A beautiful morning of sunrise and Bax's sonata in Bflat for clarinet and piano. This pastoral respite was broken only the departure of Debbie who has had to go to a conference which means I don't get to see her until tonight. We had two houseguests arrive - Kevin and Melissa - arrive last night and a third chum from Brum is expected later today.

The sedate Bax is shattered with the morning's post and the arrival of an advance copy of Vrooom Vrooom - so good they named it twice.

Whilst club members will have heard much of this set, this double CD will be going on general release and is phenomenally powerful. Alys ran from the room in horror saying "oh no not another King Crimson CD !" Quick as a flash I shouted up the stairs " No - it's two actually !"

After all the angst and unhappiness of the day job in the last few days, I learned that another project had received £20k in external funding !

As you sit coming up with bright ideas you never expect to be able to do them, particularly in the world of local government. Then somehow your idea filters down at the right time and the right place and suddenly, there's no stopping the thing.

We had lunch with the regional marketing bod of a well known mobile phone company which I can't name but she told us that the future was indeed bright. Our modest proposals (small but perfectly formed) had gone down exceedingly well with the great and good in London and they want to give us the smackeroo's to make it all happen.

Earlier in the day I talked to the great Kimbrini. I had consulted him in his status as vibe guide and as ever he was able to offer a couple of useful perspectives on matters Crim. The Kimberwisdom TM really helped and set the tone for the rest of the day.

Talked to Sean Body at Helter Skelter who told me that the pre-ordering of the limited edition hardback was going extremely well. The book is being taken to a trade fair in Frankfurt next week and will hopefully be sold on to a Japanese publisher. I mentioned to Sean that Yuka Fujii had offered to do the translation work although this kind of thing is generally out of our hands. Sean also clarified some points around the limited edition signing binge that's about to take place and several Crims (past and present) e-mailed to confirm their participation in the signing thing. Also a helpful e-mail from David Singleton on a related point.

Spoke to Jamie Muir on the blower. He was just settling down to watch Eastenders as I rang him. Just kidding. Jamie was in fine fettle and was interested to know about the prospects of some further potential Muir-era KC archive releases from DGM.

He's on board as one of the signatures for the hardback. I've tried to persuade Jamie to come along in person on the night of the launch and he's going to let me know if he'll be around.

Conversations with Chris Wilson via e-mail and telephone. The publishers have asked for some final tweaking to the cover and of course Chris has a bit of finishing to do on the hardback version of the cover which will slightly different to the regular paperback. I'm pleased to say that Chris has said that he's going to be at the launch event in November.

Similarly, Sean "not ever to be confused with Sean Body from Helter Skelter" Hewitt indicated last night that he's intending to get along to the do as well. It'll be good to have Sean and Chris along given the amount of work which they've both put into this project. And with the long suffering Kimber and Debbie also in attendance, I think I'm going to enjoy myself. Never mind the launch event, I'm looking forward to getting over the road to the pub. Yeee-haaaa.

On the agenda today . . .some editing for soon-to-be-appearing book extracts and more work on the In Times Of Hope installation. The latter means slopping paint around with Tom and Joe. Happy, Happy, Happy.

Friday, October 05, 2001

Apprehension

Up early this morning but in truth feel drained and slightly spread about the place. In this state, it's possible for me to wander about in a grumpy fug which makes me feel listless and unfocussed for the entire day. So I have to sit down and shine a light in the attic and see what's up there, clearing the cobwebs and blowing away the dust.

Dealt with several enquiries concerning In The Court Of King Crimson yesterday and today need to address the logistics of getting signatures for the hardback edition of the book. Just to clarify, the autographed hardback will only be available directly from Helter Skelter.

One or two dispatches from Chris Wilson - the hero of the design side. Chris has done an amazing amount of work way above and beyond the normal design brief. Yet with only days to go before the project goes to the printers, he continues to toil away, making adjustments, factoring in amendments, indexing and tinkering with typo's. Given all of the late nights, lost week-ends and Anorackory in extremis, you might think that Chris wouldn't want to go near another KC -related project ever again. Well, mad fool that he is, he recently signed up to do it all again with the Frame By Frame: the King Crimson Companion.

As a way of helping out with the donkey work, I'm going to go out next month to buy a scanner. Quite a bit of Chris's time was taken up with scanning the numerous press clippings which I've acquired. I'll get some advice from Chris about what kind to buy and I'm told they are as cheap as £50 although I don't know if they are any good at that price.

Working on a project like In The Court Of King Crimson has been very instructive. It's revealed to me the far corners of my prima donna tendencies and insecurities. I worked myself into a lather about being "edited" instead of trusting the process and seeing where it would lead. I wasted time and emotional energy over something that never came to pass.

My fear, you'll recall, was that the publisher would brutally hack away at the manuscript in order to fit the tome into a predetermined format. Looking back on it, Helter Skelter were nothing less than supportive, gently pushing the writer along, giving me guidance about the realities of what is desirable and what is possible. In the end Sean "not Helter Skelter's Sean" Hewitt and I trimmed the beast by 30,000 words and the thing is much better for it. Consequently, Helter Skelter had little to alter or change.

Sometimes you can get hung up on a detail and miss the wider picture, too close to be objective. So now the project appears to be in the final stretch, a new set of worries and concerns take over.

Will the printer do the job correctly ? Will anybody turn up for the launch or will it be a case of sipping a glass of flat coke, drumming my fingers in a disconsolate way, whilst wearing a paper party hat all askew ? And much worse besides. All part of the process.

Earlier this year, I received an e-mail from someone who knows a thing or two about sticking his creative jaw out in front and then deal with the hard knocks that come back - and they are just the self-inflicted ones.

Dear Sid,
When your book is published and you have to live with its lack of perception, ignorance, and blindness to read what was sitting on your face demanding your attention, then you will begin to understand life in the front line. But only, begin to understand. Making a record is like this. As you are dying, it will make more sense. When you are dead, I hope this doesn't trouble you. If it does, you'll have to come back.

Wednesday, October 03, 2001

Managing Random Factors

A stunning sky nestling over the sea this morning. Blues and greens smeared with whites, pinks and gold, underpinned by a smouldering yellow sunrise glow. As I walked down to look at the lighthouse, a light breeze played across my balding head.

Yesterday's meeting at work has been playing on my mind. For shits and giggles I consult the I Ching (a frequent practice in my day job) to get another take on the matter. It seems to confirm my current thoughts and helps to clarify a couple of pointers which I've been twisting over.

The forging of any partnership is brought about because there's a recognition from both parties that each brings something unique to the table. There's a sense of euphoria as the creative sparks fly, ideas are born, the synergy develops and the world feels like it can be changed. For me all of these ingredients are pre-requisites.

There's nothing like the buzz of a new relationship to put a spring in your step.

As the partnership slowly unfurls the mutual respect either grows with the passing of each day - the best kind of partnership. Or it begins to creak or wobble in an alarming manner.

It's a bit like being on a boat and hearing the deep, dark groan of the hull being scraped by an unseen rock. "Blimey. . .how did that happen ?" but no matter because we have a partnership we can rely upon each other to sort out the problem.

Then another agenda is introduced into the equation - something that was not aired when the ground rules were being forged. Trying to be positive about it, you see if this new demand can be accommodated, if it feels legitimate and helpful to the original aims.

The truth is that if you have to ask the question, push it around, ponder and pause- taking sounds from a variety of directions - then I guess the question of legitimacy is answered. And it's not the answer you want but in your heart of hearts you know it is the right answer.

So what's the next step ? Take the action which is needed to sort the problem out - effectively in this case put an end to the partnership and then put some serious time into working out how you got yourself in this pickle.

Talked to Judy Dyble tonight. She's in good fettle having just returned from holiday in France. She clarified a couple of points with me regarding chronology and confirmed their were certain items that she would make available for FxF. We talked about the release of the archive GG&F material which Peter Giles has been releasing - most of it a pleasant surprise from her point of view. Even though she has some doubts about the quality of the performances, she's looking forward to the release of the CD.

Tuesday, October 02, 2001

Wanting To Be In Another Kind Of Place Far Away

An irritating kind of day when things that seemed sorted suddenly unravel and come adrift. Puzzlement and a niggling feeling of wanting to be in another kind of place far away.

Yes folks - it's another day in local government. What had seemed straight forward and agreed by all parties has become open to a very diverse and subsequently divergent interpretation by everyone who was at the meeting. The lesson is to write things down in unambiguous language - preferably with crayon. Then have people say "I recognise this as conveying what I have said in this meeting". Stand back and retire. . .I wish.

After work I call into see a friend. This was not on the way home but rather in the opposite direction. I went because things aren't very good between us. We've known each other for years but things have recently been strained. It's hard to put my finger on the cause of this. No disagreements or big arguments but a noticeable distance and a lack of engagement - a bit like listening to someone but thinking about what you're going to have for your evening meal. Without saying it, we are both aware that this is happening. The last few times we'd gotten together it's been . . .unsatisfactory. Ever eaten a meal off a broken plate and you can see the join where the glue is keeping the thing together ? Worse still, half way through the meal you begin to taste the damn glue. . .urgh. . .

On a different note . . .

The book launch for In The Court Of King Crimson will be held in Helter Skelter's shop, 4 Denmark Street, London on Friday 30th November at 6.30.pm.

The idea is that some books gets signed in the company of a couple of ex-Crims and then we all go over the road for a pint and a good old chinwag. Sounds good to me.

Several Crims (past and present) have said they'll sign the limited edition hardback version which means Helter Skelter are shipping blank plates out to their addresses even as we speak.

Tonight. . .answering some questions about Crim and the book for an on-line magazine and doing some further work on the pitch and structure for Frame By Frame: The KC Companion.

Listening To. . .
Emergence by Miroslav Vitous
Elton Dean by Elton Dean
Playtime by National Health (again)

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