More Friends Than The Brontes

Back from Gibraltar and Tangier. No more mad little holidays for a while now.


I’m Dj-ing at the Latitude festival once again, as one half of The Beautiful & Damned DJs. This time we’ll be on the Thursday night, in the Film & Music tent. We’re DJ-ing between the acts through the evening, then we’ll take the tent into full club mode till 2 am. If it’s anything like the last time we did the Thursday night, the tent should be packed.

Writing-wise, I’ve contributed a piece to the New Escapologist magazine, issue 2. It’s called The Seven Ages Of Cliche, and appears to be a slightly hysterical rant about, well, whatever’s closest to hand. You can buy it from

I’m also sad about the passing of Plan B magazine, which I wrote bits and pieces for over the last few years. I really should get around to archiving all my Plan B pieces on this site.


Diary catch-up:

Saturday before last: DJ-ing for cash with Miss Red and James L, at a wedding near Steeple Bumpstead in Essex.

The marquee’s set up outside a farmhouse in the middle of the countryside. There’s a fancy dress theme, so although I’m in a tent full of people I do not know, they are all dressed as people I do know. I count about five Fat Elvises. A white-vested Freddie Mercury prances by the canapes, sausages on a stick in one hand, fake microphone on a stick in the other.

The organisers have hired a portable public lavatory from Classical Toilets of Bury St Edmunds, the interiors of which are decked out like luxury hotel washrooms. Classical music is pumped in, and there’s a vase of fresh cut lilies by the aloe vera soap dispensers. I take one of the firm’s business card-sized flyers. It turns out they do a range of four different models, depending on the number of guests catered for.  For some reason, each one is named after a famous writer, rather than a classical composer.

Top of the range, for events of over 350 guests, is The Shakespeare. I can tell from a little diagram on the flyer that the mens’ side of The Shakespeare comprises three urinals, and two cubicles. Next one down is The Dickens: three urinals and two cubicles. Then there’s The Tennyson: two urinals and one cubicle, which is the one hired for this wedding. Finally, if you think your big day is likely to attract only a few dozen guests, you can plump for The Bronte: one cubicle only.

It’s not clear which Bronte they mean, but I have visions of all three sisters having to queue up and wait until the cubicle’s free. Emily runs out of patience and uses the moors.

As I stand there at the urinal, drenched in Vivaldi, I think of Tennyson.

‘Hold thou the good; define it well.’

In Memoriam, indeed.

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Not The Dealer

Recent outings. Three birthday parties in London pubs, one for Mr Stephen Harwood (Browns, St Martin’s Lane), one for Ms Shanthi Sivanesen (The Duke, Roger Street), and one for  Ms Heather Malone (Big Red bar, Holloway Road).

At all three I notice I’ve cast myself yet again as the lone invitee who knows the birthday person but who doesn’t really know any of the other friends there. So I do wonder what the others think when I turn up and greet the birthday person affectionately, but politely wave and try to catch the names of everyone else. To this end, I’ve been sometimes mistaken for a boyfriend, or a hoped-for boyfriend. Though I’ve yet to be taken for that other role fitting such a position at parties – the birthday drug dealer.

Big Red in Holloway Road is a curious place. The decor is a kind of crossover rockabilly, heavy metal and Goth – black walls, low lights, barmaids in gingham and punkish hairdos. Two pinball machines: one based on the band Kiss, the other on Doctor Who. With Sylvester McCoy as the main Doctor.

In amongst this tattoo-compatible gloom, one rare source of brightness  is a small TV mounted high above the bar showing, inexplicably, a golf match.

Friday before last was an early evening event at the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Organised by Travis Elborough. I’m employed to do a spot of DJ-ing, Cathi Unsworth reads a short story of hers (Ms U being a Good Hair Author), and the band The Real Tuesday Weld – who once supported Fosca in Athens – play a set, starting with the singer and clarinettist performing on the open top deck of one of the vintage buses in the museum. Even better – the singer holds an umbrella. Their set is slightly curtailed by a power failure towards the end, and I’m now wondering if it’s to do with the use of an open umbrella indoors, thus invoking bad luck. Worth it for the bus top performance, though.

I get the impression the LTM is one of those word-of-mouth museums in London which more people really need to know about. Since it was revamped a few years ago, everyone I know who’s been sings its praises to the hilt. Favourite exhibit for me is the London Bus Conductor’s Dressing Mirror, with a list of cardinal London Transport rules from a time outworn printed along the side, such as ‘Always Be Clean Shaven’.

My DJ playlist:

Tom Lehrer – The Masochism Tango (single version)
Louis Armstrong – Mack The Knife
Eartha Kitt – I Want To Be Evil
Bugsy Malone Film Soundtrack – Bad Guys
Peggy Lee – Fever
Andy Williams – House of Bamboo
Frank Sinatra – Let’s Face The Music And Dance
Ella Fitzgerald – Night And Day
The Chordettes – Mister Sandman
Louis Armstrong – Cabaret
Buddy Greco – The Lady Is A Tramp
Marilyn Monroe – Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend (Swing Cats Remix)
Dory Previn – Yada Yada La Scala
Bryan Ferry – These Foolish Things
Topsy Turvy Film Soundtrack – Three Little Maids
Anita O’Day – You’re The Top
Nancy Sinatra – These Boots Are Made For Walking
Ute Lemper – All That Jazz (solo album version)
Glenn Miller – In The Mood
Alessi Brothers – Oh Lori
The Flamingos – I Only Have Eyes For You
Shirley Bassey – Big Spender
Serge Gainsbourg – Initials B.B.
Brigitte Bardot (subject of the above song) – Everybody Wants My Baby
Blossom Dearie – I’m Hip (contains the lyric ‘once again, play Mack The Knife.’ So…)
Bobby Darin – Mack The Knife

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Instant Zeal


Tomorrow night I’ll be DJ-ing at Beautiful & Damned, at the Boogaloo in Highgate.  Also on the bill are Martin White and Vicky Butterfly: pretty top-notch, proper talented fare.

Friday March 13th. Fosca play Stockholm. Debaser Slussen. More dates in that part of the world might pop up either side of the 13th. Last Fosca gigs ever ever ever. Honest. Really! It’ll be the Travel Fosca line-up of myself, Rachel and Charley. Pleased to be able to properly say goodbye to the Swedish Fosca fans. 85% of my last PRS cheque was from Swedish radio play.

May 16th – DJing at a private party with Ms Red.

June 20th – DJ-ing at How Does It Feel To Be Loved.

That’s pretty much the entire commitments list to date. Well, there’s the small matter of The Night Shift Job, which ties up every late night of mine for every other week, but I can get time off if necessary. Thing is, like most employers they only give out a limited amount of Holiday Cards to play – 14 a year. Given I get every other seven days off anyway, that’s pretty reasonable of them. But it does help me sort the ‘wouldn’t mind, oh all right’ events  from those I actually really want to do.

You’d have thought I was hardly Mr Full Diary from the above. Yet I’ve just been offered a DJ gig at the ICA, which I’ve love to do, only to realise it clashes with the Stockholm gig, so I can’t. Heigh ho.

Here’s a clip of Travel Fosca playing Stockholm last year. I’m told it’s only been uploaded recently:

(I just love the ‘’ URL Shortener – even shorter than Tiny URL)


Barack Obama’s inauguration dominates today’s papers to such an extent that other news doesn’t stand a chance. I feared that today would be perfect for sly government PRs who are keen on ‘burying bad news’, as that Whitehall spin-doctor lady coined it so notoriously on Sept 11th.

The bad news back then was to do with councillors’ expenses. This time, one story that looked like slipping through the net was a similar attempt by MPs to exempt themselves from disclosing their fiscal outgoings. In today’s news (somewhere under all the Obama stuff), they’ve had to back down. This time round people aren’t so easy to hoodwink, and the Internet helps to spread the word and get people on board. A campaign by MySociety on Facebook ralled 6,000 supporters against the expenses plot. And now they’ve won. It’s so cheering. The dominance of the Net these days makes Getting Away With Things so much harder. The same zeal to uncover plot points in Battlestar Galactica can be channelled into monitoring those who write the story of the real world.

My workload at the Coalface of News last night was a fraction of its usual volume. Partly because most of the Obama coverage isn’t UK related, but also because there was little else in the press. The newspapers today choose to devote their already thinning pages (the recession’s fault) on saying exactly the same thing again and again: Obama’s Inauguration: a Historic Moment. Turn the page: interviews with people in the street. ‘ Do you think it’s a historic moment?’ ‘Yes.’ Repeat. Turn to umpteen columnists. ‘Why Today Is A Historic Moment, and Why I Was Right About Obama Before You Were.’

Can we news-miners take it easy and leave on time with everything finished? Yes, We Can.

Thanks, Mr O. All the best with the new job. Try not to kill anyone.

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