Monthly Archives: April 2013

In which I am judged by my own typos

So I have this new phone. It’s my first smartphone, and one of the great things about being a late adopter is that for effectively no money (the thing came on the same contract as my previous Nokia Brick) you get to experience with a sense of childish wonder and glee developments which other people are now totally jaded by. “Look”, I keep saying to my friends, “the screen knows when I’m tilting it around”. And my friends roll their eyes in their tolerant way, and return their attentions to the grilled cheeses that their iPhone 7s are busily cooking for them.


Actually, I soon disabled the clever rotator screen on the basis that it made reading in bed impossible without constantly moving my neck in a slow, painful parabola. And I turned off the battery-conserving feature which deactivated the backlight when I wasn’t looking at it, too, on the perfectly sound basis that it freaked me out to have a device which knew when I was looking at it. But one technological ultra-feature which I’ve been trying to embrace is the digital technology keyboard, because I found typing on the one which came with the phone a little bit cumbersome after a decade on the olde buttone presse.

SwiftKey is a downloadable “app” (remember when they were called “programs”?) that learns your typing habits and adjusts itself accordingly. Because it’s not enough simply to have a keyboard these days, it needs to know you personally! Unfortunately, what mine seems to have learnt about me is that I do typos all the time, and it seamlessly replicates these, stomping through my carefully expressed prose to decapitalise proper nouns and remove apostrophes in ways noticeable only just after I press ‘send’ on something. But it has another, even more annoying feature: it scans your gmail and facebook accounts, and then constructs an idea of the word you’re most likely to use next at any given moment. This means that every typo it makes on your behalf is an implicit reflection of your character rather than simply a mistake: the notion of the Freudian slip just gained a worrying new potential penis, I mean validity.

So I rebelled, and decided to JUST press the first word it recommended each time, thus finding out (a) how the mechanics of the program worked, and (b) what kind of guy it really thought I was. I didn’t give it any starting letters, just pressed the top recommendation each time. Let fly:

I am a beautiful person to person who is the best bit of a crowd of the most important thing is that tied to the destiny machine plotline it makes me feel like a new bowel

Although this isn’t something I’d ever say, I do think it captures a certain me-ness. I like the way it moves from the sublime to the ridiculous, which is, I suspect, my style. And I imagine that “destiny machine plotline” is something I’ve probably said at least twice. But I’m troubled that it went to “bowel” so quickly – I feel like I’m better than that. And the arrogance of “best bit of a crowd” is quite unlike me.

Or is it, I hear my phone sneer at me from behind its polished sheen. Has it reached through my endless gmail to unravel the mysteries of my soul? Will I, personally, soon be an unnecessary adjunct of its predictive capability? And why does it get so many Game of Thrones proper nouns right whilst being unable to cope with adding possessive suffixes to dictionary words?

It bears mentioning that I actually like the SwiftKey software very much indeed, and despite the frustrations documented here it’s definitely better than the default keyboard on the Galaxy SIII. This is partly because of the far smoother interface, but it’s mostly because it keeps stats, and I love anything that adds stats to real life because I’m an enormous dickhead. I’ve dragged my finger over nearly a kilometre of touchscreen keyboard since downloading two weeks ago! How unbelievably depressing!

(Although the stats also claim to have ‘corrected’ 1,431 typos – a figure which presumably includes all the correct words it changes back into the names of unpopular British Trees as soon as I’m not looking. Don’t give yourself credit for that, SwiftKey!)

Spring’s Labours Lost

wills poster_smIt’s my enormous pleasure to formally announce the Spring’s Labours Lost tour, which sees Mr. Jamie “The Magic Lantern” Doe and myself bouncing around the country playing shows in pubs, bars, bookshops, and cinemas. The shows are small, intimate, largely unplugged, and highly informal, largely to maximise the opportunity to road-test new material. We’re linking up along the way with some of our favourite acts including Rosie Caldecott and Matt Sage! And there may be a few additions to the programme as we go on.

Alice MacDonald from Falmouth Arts did our poster, which I’m sure you’ll agree is breathtaking. So take a breath, note down which show is nearest to you, and get yourself along to it!

26th April – London – Harrison’s Bar – Tickets here!
29th April – Birmingham – The Lamp Tavern
30th April – Oxford – Albion Beatnik (with Matt Sage)
4th May – Newcastle-upon-Tyne – Star and Shadow Cinema
9th May – Falmouth – The Grapes (with Rosie Caldecott)
10th May – Bristol – Café Kino (with Two White Cranes)


Live Set

Last month, I played a short set for the lovely Sofar Oxford, who taped the whole thing and have now sent it to me for YOU to enjoy!

I make quite a few mistakes in this, and it’s the first public performance of two songs (2 and 5) so things are a bit sketchy, but it’s a nice little record of the mood of a FaceOmeter live set, and a memento of a really fun evening. Ditte Elly sings backing vocals on track 4. The setlist is:

Stuffed Animals
Pirate Mariachi
Child of Monkey Horse!
Unwillingness to Dance

New Dates

Guys, it’s my pleasure to announce a bunch of new shows. After a moderately dormant period it’s going to be really nice to stretch my wings and play you all some new (and old) material! If there’s a show near you, I hope you’ll come out! Or, come and see the show!

20th April – OxfordOld Fire Station
(as part of the Oxford Folk Weekend)

Then, on tour with The Magic Lantern (pictured below):

26th April – LondonHarrison’s Bar – Tickets here!
29th April – BirminghamThe Lamp Tavern
30th April – OxfordAlbion Beatnik (with Matt Sage)
4th May – Newcastle-upon-TyneStar and Shadow Cinema
9th May – FalmouthThe Grapes (with Rosie Caldecott)
10th May – BristolCafé Kino (with Two White Cranes)


NB. We are still hunting for shows for this tour, especially in the north around that May 4th Newcastle date, or in the Southwest between the 6th and 8th! If you know anywhere you’d like us to play – including your living room – then get in touch with faceometer at gmail dot com!

And not forgetting, later in May, two special shows:

24th May – Leicester – The Soundhouse (with MC Lars)
28th May – London – Surya (with MC Lars)

There are some extremely exciting shows here, potentially – but it’s audiences, not dates and venues, which make shows great. So come and be part of one of them!

In which I visit Oxford

I sidled down to Oxford lately to delve into the library in search for the hand-feeler-tentacled lizard of Cutcliffe Hyne (1898):


But I also found time to hang out with Matt Winkworth, the cat-headed multi-coloured lamp God of East Oxford:

cat winkworth

I was fortunate to be in his ad hoc choir, recording a few of his theatrical numbers for a demo which you can already listen to here:

It was an amazing experience singing for Matt, who’s a consummate MD but a clear inferior to yours truly in the realm of Mario Kart. Thursday, I was steering the Catweazle Club for the second week in a row, and was overjoyed by the talented performers and listeners who braved Siberian temperatures to warm up our corner of the East Oxford Community Centre.

Yesterday evening, I concluded my Oxford interlude by visiting what I hesitate to call Team Caldecott’s annual-ish Music Box gig. I think I’ve raved about Ditte Elly on here before, but you really do need to listen to her if you haven’t already:

Here is a nice picture of her and Rosie being excellent.

rosie ditte

The next morning, which was this morning for those of you not keeping track, we all went out for a lovely breakfast together, except that these two didn’t bloody turn up. So it was left to James Bell and Laura and Luke and Phoebe and I to drink infinite tea and speak pleasantly of the world and Game of Thrones and politics and Game of Thrones and religion and Game of Thrones.

Happy times.