Friday, August 26, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Ooh, a review of The Gresham Flyers' first gig!

"Jarvis once asked “Do you remember the first time?” and he could recall that “it was the worst time”. First gigs can be tragic and can scar musicians for life, making them opt for living room or selected audience performances to justify the presence of family members only.

Fortunately, this fate did not cross The Gresham Flyers’ path on Sunday at the Pleasure Unit, where they performed their first gig ever! The enthusiasm, the nerves and the thrill of a first gig were there and so was a big audience – well, yeah, it was their first gig, remember? – and the band did not disappoint.

Despite some initial sound problems, their set was very good and rather bold for a band who is just starting up. Surely many hours must have been spent rehearsing this sunshine pop bonanza set which was not limited to a classic combination of rhythm sections and guitars. “Shiftwork” was captivating and bouncy with a dominant keyboard feel, “Pretty but not Beautiful” had a joyous, graceful stream of xylophone which faded into the end of the song accompanied by jangle guitars, while “Student Nurse” flirted with some catchy funk overtones.

There is room for improvement, especially on the vocals side, but overall it was a good performance.

An audience of music lovers – not just relatives - can be devoted but also very critical. Seeing all those people cheering and tapping along, I can only say one thing: “mission accomplished, serge”."

rar rar rar

Soundtrack: Tindersticks - Simple Pleasure

I've been quite busy this week. It's nice. I'm off work next week, so I like it when I've had stuff to do leading up to it, and then work to do when I get back. It makes the break worth it.

I was just trying to work out what I did this weekend, and I couldn't think for the life of me. Then I realised - I went to a picnic in Kew Gardens. It had been pissing it down all week, so I didn't have high hopes for the Saturday, but thankfully the sun broke through enough to make it feel like summer. I saw my first brown leaves this morning, so it's not really summer, but anyway... lovely weekend. I can't really remember much of it though, due to the 2 bottles of wine I consumed. Oops.

Sunday consisted of me nursing my hangover til about 1.30. I came out of the shower to a text from Kristin saying 'where shall we meet?'. Thankfully, as Thom left for work that morning he reminded me that I'd arranged to meet Kristin on that day. I text back with 'Well I have to be in Shepherd's Bush at 6' then went downstairs to potter. An hour later I came back to a text saying 'I'm on my way'. Aargh! She'd made it to the 'Bush before I'd even left the house. Nooooooooooooooo. Not stress. Not when I feel like this. In the end, it turned out a bit o' a slumber in the Defector's Weld was just what I needed before band practice.

It's Thom's birthday today. I was so excited about his presents that I woke him up at 6.30. I gave him 2 x The Tubes albums (not the good ones), Harry Potter, The Art of Mix Tapes by Thurston Moore, Three Men in a Boat (Thom's favourite novel - which he lost his copy of), a Motown shirt and Big Train Series 1&2 on DVD. Weeee! He seems pretty chuffed. It's quite a weekend too, as we're moving in with each other tomorrow. I'm finally leaving London for the peace and relaxation (and chavs) of Windsor. Well, Datchet. Actually my address says Slough, but it isn't.

I finally saw the place last night. We're moving in, but I hadn't even seen what it's like inside! All sorts of complications with current tennants, contracts, it being Thom's friends' house etc. It's not too bad, actually. A lot smaller than my current place (thank god I chucked out 5 bags of clothes) and I have no idea how we're going to fit our CDs, vinyl and books in. Still, it will look homely in no time. And I love the fact that the bedroom has a balcony that overlooks the living room. Aaah, it'll be like Romeo and Juliet! I won't have internet access for the next week or two, so wish me luck! I'll try and take pictures when I've unpacked.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

it's a fair crop, guv

Soundtrack: Beach Boys - Sunflower

So the weekend was spent at Fairport's Cropredy Convention. It's a folk festival. But this year it was quite an off-kilter one.

The merchandise shirts were firmly fixed in the 60s, with their illuminous flower power writing boasting claims of peace and love. Fine. But the bands... quite an unusual mix, compared to the last time I attended. There was The Muffin Men, for starters. They're basically a group of music teachers covering Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. I'm quite impenetrable to Beefheart, so I used the time wisely to buy a melodica instead. Then there was The Dylan Project. They were basically Fairport Convention fronted by a Bob Dylan-wannabe. By the time they came onstage, Thom and I had suffered a day of intolerable coldness, so when we went back to the tent to get our sleeping bags we thought 'sod it', and went to bed instead.

So the weather put a bit of a dampner on the weekend. A bit of sun on Thursday, freezing on Friday, and freezing with rain on Saturday. But there was still fun to be had. Firstly by meeting up with Kelly (New Order) and Wood again, and secondly by playing 'Cropredy I Spy'...

You might remember the fun Thom and I had at Crosby, Stills and Nash recently. Well Cropredy was a veritable goldmine of I Spy frivolity. The most prevalent was the gay dog wearing a neckerchief. Bonus points for a pink neckerchief which Simon claims to have seen, but has no witnesses to substantiate this claim. There was also the oldest Cropredy t-shirt found. Kelly claimed a 1989er, but again, a lack of witnesses means it doesn't qualify for points. 1 pointers for the exotic waist coats/comedy hats brigade. 'Folk Mothers' were quite a funny one - she wears a Cropredy shirt from many a year ago, drainpipe jeans, has her hair in a dishevelled bob and is usually trailing 3 miserable kids behind her. My favourite was capturing a folk knitter. She must've been using needles that were 2inches wide!

So from this fun to poignancy. Carole, my recently widowed Aunt also came to the festival with us, and after Fairport on Sunday night the family traipsed over to Cropredy Bridge to scatter my Uncle Alan's ashes. I felt very bad for Carla, my cousin. I was stood next to her and she was understandably upset. I didn't know whether to hug her not. I tried stroking her back, and she didn't respond. But Carole was getting all the sympathy it seemed. I couldn't bear to leave Carla alone, so I gave her a huge hug and rested my head on her shoulder. This time she hugged me back.

It was a sorry sight though, the water under this particular bridge. Cropredy has a wonderful canal running through it, but under this bridge the water was quite stagnant with rubbish thrown in it - but it had to be that particular spot. Then there was a silly moment. Suddenly Carole clocked a Morrison's shopping bag, and Carole couldn't help but laugh. 'It's a sign!' she kept saying - the Morrison's bag symbolising my uncle's passion for The Doors. You have to laugh, really.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Soundtrack: Fairport Convention - Meet on the Ledge

Busy, busy week. Workwise and socially.

After indiepopping at How Does it Feel to be Loved on Friday night, Saturday was spent drinking coffee in Angel and BBQing in East Ham. Sunday was spent on another band photoshoot. We needed to re-do a potentially fantastic shot at Heron Quays, and have our individual photos taken in Farringdon. I ended up going for a 'having fun in a kid's playground' shot. I don't know whatever possessed me, but I wanted a photo of me smiling as that's when I shine.

Monday saw The Gresham Flyers supporting Saturday Looks Good to Me in Brixton. It was a pretty good night; SLGTM were excellent, as I imagined. Our set was better in retrospect, but onstage I felt like everything was going wrong. We had really bad feedback during the first 2 songs, but I think we saved it towards the end. All I could think all night was how it wasn't as good as our first night... but I think we did turn in a good performance in the end.

Here's a couple of photos of the night. God I love my dress!

If anyone is interested, we are streaming some 4-track recordings of one of our rehearsals at

The feeds don't show us to our full energetic potential, but at least you'll get a good idea of how we're sounding. I can't wait to get some proper recording done, so we can get a 7" duplicated, but it looks like we're going to have to wait until October for that.

And in one hour's time I'll be heading off to a little village to Cropredy to go to the folk festival held there. I can't wait. It should be nice and relaxing (the peaktime tube journey with full 66litre rucksack and tent was so relaxing), and I'm looking forward to a weekend of cider, (hopefully) sun and good music.

Friday, August 05, 2005

6 hours later...

Oh dear.

I've just completed my first sudoku puzzle.

This is the beginning of the end.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

modern technology has a lot to answer for

Soundtrack: Squeeze

The tube was eerily quiet this morning. It's 2 and 4weeks since 'the attacks', and it actually took all my strength not to get two buses to work, rather than the tube. But I was running late, and reasoned with myself that I was being daft, so took the tube. My, was it quiet. Seats all the way to Clapham North. By Stockwell I had 6 empty seats around me - I don't even remember it being that quiet when I worked over Christmas! The emptiness made me feel even more nervous.


Modern technology has a lot to answer for, part 1:

I've noticed that I'm losing the ability to scan read. If I'm on the computer, and looking for a certain word, I ctrl+F, type the word in, and all the hard work has been done for me.
I was glancing through a paper document yesterday, and found my eye glazed over. The words muddled together and blurred. I could not find the word I was looking for. I ctrl+Fd in my head, and then realised I wasn't at a computer. And I've noticed myself doing this more and more when I'm reading something on paper...

Modern technology has a lot to answer for, part 2:

While researching something for work, I stumbled upon Tony Hawks' website. Not Tony Hawks the skateboarder, but Tony Hawks the comedian.

There was the funniest section on his website. He receives at least an email a day from a kid confusing him for the skateboarder, and there's an inspired 'Skatemail' section where he replies to the emails. Texting has a lot to answer, as you'll realise from the highlights here:

Bout ye big guy!!!!! Tone, I'm like ur bigest fan.i'm 9yrs old and bin sk8ing for like 2 yearsur amazing man, u rock dude i am your biggestt fan i gotta go luv will

We should hook up some time. You seem exactly my type of guy. It would be nice to sit down over a sherry and discuss Proust, listen to poetry and do the odd 'ollie' if the fancy takes us.
I'll be in touch.

hows the skateboarding doinur work is very gud and i bet the pay is gud tou should do more thing with bam u to r greatcan i have ur autograph pleaseseana budding fan

What does that mean? Budding fan? I'm not interested in budding fans. I only want contact with people who have got all their budding out of the way and are ready to be fully fledged, committed fans.
Please get in touch after you've successfully budded. (Best done in a dark room with a glass of water standing by.)TH

Tony what was your first ever trick you did and what was your favourite trick you ever did?Liam

I've stopped turning tricks since they cleaned things up around Kings Cross. You probably wouldn't want to know what the trick was. TH

Hi Tony I hope you are well.My name is Max and I come from west sussex in the U.K and I was wandering if I could ask you about dropping in.I wanted to ask you about dropping in to minni ramps because I feel scared of accidentally baling and hitting my head or back very hard. Is it ok if you could add some dropping in tips to your web site.

I shall be dropping in later today. So put the kettle on.
Tony Hawks

Dear TonyI think you are cool, and my sister does too. Would you teach me some tricks? I really want to become a good skateboarder. How do you make a half-pipe? How old were you when you started skateing? How old were you when you learned how to do a kick flip? Do you ever come to Meigs County, Ohio to a skate park called Skatetopia? If so, would you let me know the next time you plan on being there.Your biggest fan,DiJaun

My, what a lot of questions. For answers, see below.
Q: Would you teach me some tricks? A: NoQ: How do you make a half-pipe? A: Take a whole pipe and cut it down the middle.
Q: How old were you when you started skateing? A: None of your business
Q: How old were you when you learned how to do a kick flip? A: I'm not telling you.
Q: Do you ever come to Meigs County, Ohio to a skate park called Skatetopia? A: No.
Q: If so, would you let me know the next time you plan on being there. A: You can rest assured, I shan't be there.
Now, there you are. Still like me? I doubt it.TH

Absolute genius.

Monday, August 01, 2005

the gresham flyers' 1st gig aftermath

Soundtrack: Gather in the Mushrooms

It was a nervous day. Thom and I arrived at around 5.30, only to finally soundcheck in front of an audience at 8pm. Thom was getting just a wee bit irate, but you're helpless whilst waiting for the headliners to turn up and set up. And if Thom is tense, it rubs off on me...

But thankfully the night went superbly. The set just went in a whirl, and I don't think I stopped smiling the whole time. I was amazed at how much confidence I suddenly felt up on stage. I distinctly remember hearing my mic being turned up when I started singing, and suddenly my voice was booming back at me. Then it suddenly felt very real. I didn't care whether I was singing every note perfectly (I know I wasn't), just hearing it all for real, seeing friends and family in the audience, looking over at other band members... just a fantastic experience. I can't wait to do it all over again.

The best thing was hearing the feedback afterwards. Obviously there were people we knew saying 'oh you were great', but it was more than that... 'Oh, I loved the 3rd song, oh I loved Student Nurse'. One friend said 'Sharon, I've seen a lot of gigs in my time, as you know. I'll give you some constructive criticism, but for a first gig you've set the bar very high'. I even had a lovely girl I didn't know approach me in the toilets to say she thought we were brilliant.

I haven't stopped thinking about the gig all day! What a wonderful experience.

If any of yous fancy a trip to The Windmill in Brixton next Monday (8th August) we'll be supporting Saturday Looks Good to Me, so check us out. More details on The Gresham Flyer's website: