Winstone & Dolby

Further to the previous entry, the BBC, Guardian and other UK news sites did get around to mentioning David Foster Wallace’s suicide after all, albeit a full day after this diary did. I feel the same way I did when returning from the Haringey Council elections in 2006 and publishing the full results to the diary, only to find that I was ahead of the council’s own website by several hours. And even then they got the numbers slightly wrong: I had to email them their own correct results.

Despite appearances, my feeling in both cases is not the smugness of the amateur reporter scooping the professionals, or the grumbling of one of those armchair experts who seem to write with one finger endlessly wagging till the grave (‘and another thing…!’).

No, it’s more the vague annoyance at being annoyed per se, when there’s far more deserving matters to give a hoot about.


Diary catch-up. In bits.

Friday Sept 12th: Fosca’s trip to Madrid for a one-off gig.

Highgate, early hours. The taxi is due to collect me at 5.30am, and as usual I can’t get a wink of sleep beforehand. All I can think about is the entirely possible horror of the doorbell ringing while I’m in bed, with me having slept through the alarm. Add this worry to the excitement and nervousness of the trip, and it seems pointless going to bed at all. But I still give it a go, lying there in the dark, utterly awake until the alarm goes, feeling foolish.

Our taxi driver is slightly played by Ray Winstone. I think it’s fair to say this, because the first thing he tells me as I emerge from the house is:

‘Blimey – you look like Thomas Dolby.’

I groggily attempt a smile – well, a smirk – and shove my suitcase in the boot. I can see Charley inside the car, trying hard not to laugh.

‘I guess you get people telling you that all the time, eh?’

‘Well… I often have people saying who I remind them of…’

‘Nah. It’s DEFINITELY Thomas Dolby. Definitely.’

And he says this is if it’s the most reasonable and useful thing in the world. Off we go.

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Side-effects of the Ban

Thursday eve: To the Bullet Bar in Kentish Town Road, to see the band The New Royal Family, comprising Charley Stone, David Barnett, Jen Denitto and Rob Whose-Surname-Is-Unknown-To-Me. It’s Rob’s 30th birthday. He’s wearing a floppy blond wig and handing out free toy plastic dinosaurs. I’m not sure why (perhaps the answer is ‘why not?’). They’re enjoyable and fun and more like rock stars than many of those who do it for a living, frankly.  They also do a pretty faithful cover of Adam Ant’s ‘Young Parisians’, which is as old as Rob – from 1978.

The band on before them are outrageously loud and tuneless and depress the hell out of me when I enter the venue. I wonder if I’m Too Old, or they’re just Too Loud, or both. Thankfully the Bullet is one of those bars who’ve had to sprout a ‘beer garden’ from nowhere (really a back yard), in order to retain their smoking clientele. This way, not only can people sit down and have a cigarette with their drink, but they can actually hold a conversation without having to shout in each other’s ears over a loud band (or a loud jukebox, or loud football on TV). You can’t smoke AND listen to the bands, of course, but it’s a small price to pay for the ‘quiet carriage’ of the garden, in my book.

I read recently that outdoor music festivals are now more popular and lucrative than ever. So I wonder if the smoking ban is at least part of that equation, too.

Among others, I chat to Vicki Churchill, Seaneen M, Anna S, Alex S, and Rhoda B. Charley wasn’t sure if she could get me on the guest list, but as it turns out the gentleman on the door knows me anyway, and simply waves me inside on sight alone. I suppose I’m an Old Face On The Scene to some. And I recall that Fosca played the Bullet Bar in its previous incarnation as The Verge.

I’m listening to a friend’s mix tape of new-ish music, and one track I really enjoy is ‘Busy Doing Nothing’ by Love Is All. I Google them and discover they’re from Gothenburg. In fact, they used to be the band Girlfrendo, whose records I bought and loved while they were going. Love Is All is a world away from that unabashed twee / C86-inspired incarnation: they’re now very much of the CSS / Franz Ferdinand school: muscular and rhythmic. I know so many bands sound like that at the moment (with that slurping disco um-CHUH um-CHUH beat, as ubiquitous now as the ‘Funky Drummer’ style was in 1989), but they do it better than most:

Love Is All – Busy Doing Nothing (Video)

The hired Fosca-mobile is coming to pick me up at 5.30am. Then it’s off to Gatwick, and Madrid.

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Sequined Vodka Tales

A Fosca London gig announcement. Oh yes!

It’s the much-threatened Fosca Farewell show. Saturday December 13th at Feeling Gloomy, Bar Academy, Islington. Stage times to come.

The line-up will a five-piece, three-guitar and two synths (plus laptop) assault: Rachel S, Kate D, Tom E, Charley S and myself.


Two DJ gigs of mine, at somewhat shorter notice.

I’m DJ-ing on Sat Sept 20th, at a plush dress-up event called The Magic Theatre. This takes place in an Art Deco ballroom in Bloomsbury. Here’s what their website says about the dress code:

“Ladies: The perfect place for all you Cinderellas and Style Queens, Pink Princesses and Leggy Latex Babes… Audrey Hepburns and Barbarellas, TV’s, Saucy Secretaries and Rock Chicks…Whether you’re a Goth Girl, Dowager, French Maid or Precocious Teen Queen, Marie Antoinette, or Marilyn Monroe, the Magic Theatre is YOUR stage. Gentlemen: Retro Glamour, Uniforms, Lounge Lizards, Gentlemen of the Cloth, Fauns, B-Movie Stars, Prince Charmings, Pirates and Dandies of all kinds…Arise, Sir Galahad, kneel before Zod, come out, come out you Peter Pans, Dick Turpins and Darcys…”

I’ll be doing two DJ sets between 8.30pm and 11.30pm. Ticket details at


I’m also putting in a brief DJ appearance at The Beautiful & Damned on Thursday 18th, at The Boogaloo (near Highgate Tube). Martin White & The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra will also be playing. The B&D isn’t ‘my’ club any more, as I’m forever correcting people, but it’s still going strong under the auspices of Miss Red and The Boogaloo team. They’ve reinvented it into a kind of cabaret / club night / music hall booth affair. It’s great to see unwitting Highgate pub goers wander in off the street, and wonder just what weird, time-hopping universe they’ve stepped into. Part Red Room in ‘Twin Peaks’, part Sapphire & Steel…

Back to the diary.

Wednesday evening: to Trash Palace in Wardour Street, for a club night called ‘Polari’. It includes Jamie McLeod’s exhibition of modern dandies, which in turn includes me. Always nice to swan into a club to see a large framed photograph of oneself on the wall. The club also supplies free quiche.

On this occasion, special guest Sebastian Horsley takes the mic, and prowls and provokes and reads from his book, to a packed and appreciative crowd. Including his mother. He’s in his red sequined suit and brandishes a matching sequined bottle of vodka. Well, a sequined bottle cosy.

I say hello to David Benson, Anne Pigalle, Jason Atomic and Ms Ruta, and meet Clayton Littlewood, author of the ‘Soho Stories’ column in the London Paper. The window by his writing desk (or rather,  laptop perch) looked out from the clothes shop he worked at, Dirty White Boy in Old Compton Street. A particularly good spot in London to watch people and gather (or imagine) stories: Soho media types, the famous, the homeless, the vicious queens, the prostitutes, the tourists, the tramps, the old survivors, the new blood. He’s put together a book version: ‘Dirty White Boy: Tales Of Soho’, which I’m rather looking foward to.

More details at his MySpace page, with excerpts, readings and so on:

After Polari, Mr Benson takes myself, Mr H, Mr L and his friend Ms Lois for dinner at one of the Chinese restaurants in Gerrard Street. Sebastian invites me to an orgy on Friday. I politely decline. I’ll be busy playing indiepop songs in Madrid. Many of which are about, well, not going to orgies.

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