Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Peninsula

Yesterday, on our way back from being almost the sole audience of an excellent stand-up comedian near Oxford Circus, my housemate and I strolled over to the Greenwich Peninsula terminal of the new cable cars to see if we could get a sunset ride over the river. We’ve been watching them build the things for a year, and they opened yesterday, but despite the perfect weather they were already shut for the day by the time we got there (a second attempt at 7am this morning we abandoned due to bollocks weather).

With the moon up, we strolled barefoot over the recently cut grass of the long meadow which seperates Millennium Village from the O2. For those who’ve never been there, the Greenwich Peninsula is an almost literally unbelievable place – part futuristic mecca, part police-state nightmare, part mario kart level, part overgrown-parking-lot, part warehouse. Periodically there’s bungee jumping there, or chairoplanes. Mostly, though, there’s a bus terminal, and some cable cars. In the exact centre of this incomprehensible mess sits the weidest thing you could possibly put there – a totally normal (and quite pleasant) pub (The Pilot Inn), with a quiz night, a cheese counter, and a beer garden. Inside, you’re at the end of any nice-ish residential street in the UK. Exit, and there’s the Millennium Dome glowering at you over the treeline, the futuristic (?german-looking) flats of oval square on the other side, parkland all around, the meridian laser-beam just visible in the distance. At least sixty buses an hour drive straight past this pub on their way to the North Greenwich terminal; none stops anywhere near it.

Though it’s an environment that could drive a casual observer completely insane (I’ve watched it happen), I’ve gradually grown extremely fond of the peninsula. It’s testimony, in my view, to the ultimate inability of corporations to really decide what happens to urban space. You can’t control reception!, as we English-student types often chant. The place is a distillation of the fragments of various grand projects, of which the Millennium Dome is only the biggest and most obvious. It exhudes a charm entirely aside from the spirit in which they were planned (although dependant on it). What will the ‘Emirates’ Air Line look like in ten years, or Millennium Village in twenty? Futuristic, corporate visions like these die young, transformed by the people who actually use them into something different, richer, more dynamic. Greenwich Peninsula is a theme park made out of the failed and expensive dreams of people trying to make us see the world a certain way. Its incoherence, sharpened increasingly over more than a decade, becomes part of the counterargument. From the curvacious, wooden primary school which sits near its heart for no reason to the equally unexpected four-ish storey high sculpture made of what looks like giant aluminium pins, this is an environment which, seen a certain way, profoundly challenges the unitary, authoritarian voice of its constructors. More voices, more ideas, inexplicably more, it says. Heteroglossia. There’s unity in difference. Embrace the nonsense.

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A Six-legged Sequence

It’s always good to have a day where you complete everything on your to-do list, and today I not only cleaned my room and watched an episode of Game of Thrones (a third consecutive one with almost no pointless nudity/sex! Go HBO!), but I also finished a song I’ve been trying to write for a little while, ‘Monkey Horses in Strange Climes’. For those of you who haven’t been PAYING GODDAMN ATTENTION, this is the third of four songs in the Monkey Horse sequence, which I’ve been coming up with over the last couple of years and which is now coming to fruition.

‘The Gallop of the Monkey Horse’, which came out last hallowe’en on the Spooky EP, describes the horrifying myth of the creature itself. It was written and recorded with Sam Taplin and Max Jones, and you can listen to it here (buy the record, even!).

I felt that the Monkey Horse had been hard done by in that song – it can’t help being a monster! So to show its softer side, I gave it a baby. What quicker way to make a character sympathetic? ‘Child of Monkey Horse!’ was written last October and will probably be on my next solo full-length album, Why Wait for Failure?, in 2013 or so.

Then comes today’s effort – ‘Monkey Horses in Strange Climes’ – which follows the monstrous duo on an epic journey away from the persecutions of their home forests and towards a brighter future. This will be on Last Days in the Capital, the not-even-EP which I’m planning to put out next month (to the eagle-eyed: yes, this means the songs will not be recorded in the order you’re ideally meant to hear them in. Never mind).

I don’t want to say too much about the final, as-yet-unwritten song, ‘Monkey Horses at the Ocean’s Edge’, but obviously it gets pretty Gormenghasty. It will only be on the special Monkey Horse digital download mini-EP, which will include the other three songs as well, and which will be out “at some point”.

While I’m waiting for inspiration to strike on that one, it’s good to think that I can focus on some other songs. Taplin, Tattersdill, and Jones have some new irons in the fire, and I’ve not been pulling my weight there – plus, of course, there’s the prospect of finishing Vibe, Drill, and “It”, as well as an even more exciting maybe-project that I don’t even want to tell you about yet…

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End of an Idea

Hey Guys! As followers of this blog will undoubtedly be aware, its been my pleasure for the last almost-two years to run Bright Idea, the open mic at Railroad Café in Hackney. Bright Idea was never a staggering success in terms of numbers, but it’s virtually always been a really positive and fun experience to get together with some friends and strangers once a week and play songs, tell stories, read poetry, and all the rest of it. Unfortunately I’m leaving the capital pretty soon, so the Bright Idea of two weeks from now (June 27th) will be the last. There’s another between now and then, June 20th, which will run as normal.

Please do come down – it’d be great to go out with a bang (like all the best lightbulbs). Those who have been will know that our open stage is unparalleled in London for intimacy of venue and diversity of performers. That’s a bold claim, especially given our fairly low average turnout, but I really do believe it – we wanted to make it more or less like people playing in our sitting room, and that’s what happened.

If you never came along, these next two weeks are your last chance! There’s a facebook event for the last one here: please invite people and come along yourself. It’s the beginning of my last days in the capital (a short record about this is coming your way shortly) so it’s essential to do justice to the time spent here so far and make this a night to remember! I really hope you can make it. 20th and 27th June, Railroad Café, Morning Lane E9 6LH, 8:30PM+, £2 in.

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