Off The Record – Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes

In ‘Off the Record’, I write about music that I’ve played over and over and over and over, even though it might not be cool or new or undiscovered. Most likely, these will be albums that have been written about time and time again, but, nonetheless, hold a very dear place in my heart. I will also only allow the length of the album’s running time to write about it (as both a time-saver and a challenge).

I first wrote about Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. Next up: Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut LP. *presses play*

The opening seconds of this album are so nostalgic to listen to. “Red squirrel in the morning, red squirrel in the evening, red squirrel in the morning, I’m coming to take you home.” Utter nonsense, but a truly memorable opener to this, one of the most stunning debut albums ever recorded (in my humble opinion, obviously).

Let’s first up talk about why I decided to write about this for my Off the Shelf mini-series, where I write about albums (cool or uncool, well-known or obscure) in the time it takes to listen to them. I didn’t discover some of the great folk singers from the ‘60s and ‘70s until my mid-teens because I was listening to this Fleet Foxes album on repeat. The album was released in 2008 (when I was 12! how terrible it is to be 12 years old!), the same year my dad took me to see the band at Cambridge Junction, a tiny and intimate venue where we stood a metre or so from the band’s psuedo-shy-turned-Instagram-king frontman, Robin Pecknold. The experience of being at that gig was like nothing I’d ever experienced (and have not experienced since).

On my dad’s recommendation, I’d listened to the album a few times before we went, and I really liked it. It’s complex but accessible, the harmonies are unbelievably pleasing to the ear (and immensely satisfying to the ex-cathedral chorister in me). The album was immediately comforting to hear; so wintry, so cosy (despite the fact it was released in June). The artwork (which must have really helped this album get noticed) is so perfectly apt for it. I didn’t know of Pieter Bruegel’s work before, but as a culture-hungry pre-teen I scoured Tumblr for more Bruegel afterwards. There’s a couple of Bruegel works in the National Gallery, and I remember one weekend stumbling upon them when I came to London for the day, all sulky and broke. “That’s my band!”, I thought, when I saw it. “The motherf***in’ Foxes!” Appropriating Renaissance paintings, like the Tabloid Art History Twitter account, but IRL.

Anyway, listening to the album has now progressed in such a way that we’re now on the fourth track, Tiger Mountain Peasant Song. This, again, is hugely reminiscent of my early teens, sitting on my bed in a box room in the countryside, wincing at the pain of calloused fingers as I tried to learn the tab for this song on the guitar my parents got me for my 13th birthday. It also reminds me of the viral video that got First Aid Kit a record deal. Warning: this is so #forest vibes, and so 2010. And, jeez, they look SO young

It’s now dawned on me that I know pretty much every word of this album. I’m finding it tricky to write as I’m singing along too hard! On He Doesn’t Know Why, you can hear Father John Misty’s, the artist formerly known as J. Tillman, lovely, thumping drums. And then, that gorgeous, a-third-apart piano sound at the end. My, my, my, does this album even get the credit it deserves? *pauses to fangirl*

Strangely, as in reverse (and probably not uncommon for those of us born in ‘96), it was this fashionable late-Noughties era of folk that got me listening to the music that influenced it, and thus changed my life forever. So, your Fleet Foxes’ and Laura Marling debut of ‘08, the whole Mumford and Sons shit, etc, ad infinitum, got me reading lots of interviews with the bands which oft referenced artists such as Neil Young (solo and with Crosby, Still and Nash) Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Therefore, I owe a lot to this band.

Now, we’ve reached Meadowlarks. Another that’s quite easy to learn the guitar part to (a surefire dealbreaker of the music you’re listening to when you’re learning an instrument) and I yearned for a group of muso-loving friends who’d come round and sing it with me. I actually recorded two of the harmonies on this track and sang along to it (one on my PC, one of my phone. Yes, PC. The family PC). 

Track number 10, Blue Ridge Mountains, is baffling in the way you might think: ‘How is this album getting better and better? It’s less than 40 minutes long!’ The melody in the verse punches and rises in an uplifting, timeless and determined way; a melody written by a 19-year-old Pecknold. The record ends with a jaw-dropping track recorded in the 1500s (jk), Oliver James, which, when we went to see the band at the Junction, was performed acapella by Pecknold. I will never forget the atmosphere in that room as the audience stood there, transfixed. It was truly magnificent, and it’s what keeps me going to see live music – the chance that you might stumble across a moment like that, where the world stops and a group of strangers share an experience that won’t ever be repeated in the same way again. 

This album remains on my shelf as it captures a very distinct part of my adolescence: long winters crushing on boys who thought I was a lesbian, wearing fleecy lumberjack shirts, and familiarising myself with basic guitar chords, frustrated yet determined by the horrible truth that I couldn’t quite play what’s recorded on the album. I still can’t. It’s a modern classic.

Listen to it on Spotify now

 

This week’s rack round-up – 29/01/17

In a weird, flu-induced haze in TK Maxx a few weeks ago, I decided that what I really needed was an organiser for all the piles of magazines and papers that were accumulating on my desk, rather than what I really went in for, which was new pants. The only paper organiser I could find instore was adorned with glittery butterflies, which I was kind of into, but was subsequently won over by the above rack with its gloriously tacky-not-tacky London skyline. The less stuff that’s stored in it, the more [landmarks] you can see, which is kind of a metaphor for life. If anything, these fortnightly posts might inspire me to keep my desk tidier. The rack is there for things to be in easy reach at any given moment, so it’s an apt representation of things that I’m currently into reading/listening to/consuming in all its forms. Welcome to the first instalment of this week’s rack round-up!

1) Been reading… this (glorious) copy of The Fader!

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Oh, Fader, how I love thee – thee who I can pick up in various vintage shops for free! What a seriously gorgeous-looking magazine, though. The quality of the paper, the heaviness of it, *breathes in smugly, nose-deep in the spine of the most-perfect perfect bound publication*. I picked this up in the Covent Garden branch of Rokit – the last in the pile – and now I’m doubting whether it was actually free for the taking. Oh, well. Whoever’s copy of Fader I stole, thank you. The interview with Girlpool by Patrick D. McDermott is one of the best things I’ve read about a band in ages, clearly trying to suppress a fan-boy admiration for these two teen queens of nursery rhyme grunge. You can read the entire thing here (thanks, internet!) – it’s kinda long, but bookmark it for later. Me and my mate Chloe saw Girlpool a couple of years ago at End of the Road festival and it was the highlight of the weekend. I didn’t realise that they were the same age as the both of us at the time, which now just makes me even more heart eyes for everything they’re about. Share the love with me! Like this YouTube video! Now!

There’s also a great feature about faith and what it means to yung thingz today. Everything with the world has gone batshit crazy and I’ve often caught myself thinking about faith of late (particularly over Christmas). Here is that feature for you to read/bookmark/print off etc.

2) *Also* been reading… this book from the School of Life series about how we can exist in cities without losing our collective shit.

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I’m not going to write at length about this (yet), because as you can see, I’ve been busy furrowing through it flagging up its golden morsels of info about how one can best get on in, and with, the city. I’ve been a Londoner now for six months and I love it so much, but as with all relationships, it requires work. Anyway, I’ll write something longer about this when it’s not a Sunday and I don’t have to get to the supermarket before 4pm. City life, amirite.

3) Been listening to… this: over and over and over and over and over. 

fullsizerender-2If a film were to be made following me mooching around in my bedroom over the past three months, this would be the soundtrack. Not the soundtrack in the sense of the album’s politically-charged and so-very-important messages, but the soundtrack in the sense that it just would be on in the background. Seriously, there’s a button on my CD player where you can repeat an album over and over – I don’t know who I wrote that for, perhaps those born post-2000 – and it fills me with an enormous sense of comfort to press that button after I hit play, snug in the knowledge that it’ll be playing as I’ve been tackling monstrous to-do lists. I’ve just graduated from a really intensive fast-track diploma (in journalism! Please hire me!), and the last few months have essentially been an uber-sized task in time management. The way each song flows into the next, how the chord progressions resolve, the way he sings about God – the album was like a lullaby (and sometimes not even ‘like a’, but rather an actual one, having to play it quietly through my phone in order to sleep). Please, for the love of the world, spend your Sunday listening to it. Its themes are particularly pertinent at the moment, when one has to truly ask ‘What [the fuck]’s [really going] on? Read more about the album in this Pitchfork review, here.

Thanks for reading!

T.A.L x

Brief encounters: re-visiting acquaintances from a year gone by – 15/01/17

I finished my journal a couple of weeks ago in a weird coincidence that obeyed the rules of the Gregorian calendar. Completing a notebook is a similar feeling to finishing a book, except with extra hand cramp. Before the final pages had been filled, I re-read it, and was reminded of some characters I briefly met that had a weirdly profound and lasting effect on me. Here are words summing them up. 

Festival goers inhale laughing gas at sunrise at the stone circle on the second day of Glastonbury music festival at Worthy Farm in Somerset

To the boy with a shaved head trying to flog two bags of coke and ket at Glastonbury this year – congrats! You’ve made my top three brief encounters of 2016. How are you? I’ve been reminded of you more than once since June, and each time I am, it makes me smile a bit. This might sound a bit VICE, but I’ve never met someone so into drugs in such an excessive way, and the way you went about it was admirable and a bit brilliant.
I went all heart eyes for your infectious joie de vivre, which – in a field of festival-goers – wasn’t sparse, but yours seemed totally authentic: committed to the (chemical) cause. We were all sat at the Stone Circle during the Sunday night/Monday morning merge, and I let you kiss me a tiny bit while I was holding the hand of a newly-instated friend I’d first met earlier that day, who lay passed out on the grass among all the popping canisters. You were giggling with your best mate the whole time I was there: a right pair, out of your heads, hopelessly devoted to each other.

You were supposed to be working the get-out for Coldplay’s closing set in a few hours’ time, but decided to (rather sensibly) sack it off and continue to cane it instead. Hope the two of you had a mad sesh planned for New Year’s Eve. And, separately, to the group of sixth form boys we met in the whiskey tent at 6am, drowsy on Valium, I hope you passed your A-levels. You will all be fine.


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To the man I met outside Liverpool St. station in September holding a bag full of meat, I hope you got on with your brother all right. We met when I was waiting to meet a friend for lunch, and you were sat there looking noticeably nervous, with a plastic bag filled to the brim with pork.

You told me you were waiting to meet your brother who you hadn’t seen for nine years – and you’d just come from a charcuterie class. Whatever it takes to calm your nerves, I suppose. I’m glad I was there to witness the physical reunion of you both, experiencing a truly dramatic Slice of (Someone Else’s) Life.

I hope the rest of your date went as swimmingly as the reception did, and I wonder if you spent Christmas together. If so, I really hope you supplied the Christmas ham.



Alejandro*, my first crush on a Catalan boy that took place in Berlin during August, thanks for stepping in to my summer trip at exactly the right time – when I desperately needed someone to make out with at all the major sightseeing spots. Sorry I got so uptight about you not paying the train fare to go to east Berlin for the day, but I’m quite into paying for public transport (and secretly riding the S-Bahn was an affordable tourist attraction I was more than willing to pay for). Not paying did make you look really cool though.

Perhaps the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to me was when I walked you to the train station in the morning so you could jump the train to Amsterdam (transport troubadour), but then you called an hour later to say you were back at the hostel – and would I like to go to the zoo? (Answer: always yes.) You were my total guy for three days, and I will never forget that time in the Photoautomat booth. Happy new year, babe.



*Names have been changed to protect only the innocent

Thoughts on a play about consciousness. Is that a paradox? Am I even here? ~ and other things mulled over this week

I went to see The Hard Problem and took notes in the dark. Lesson learnt: Don’t take notes in the dark. When the house lights come up, you will laugh at the illegible squiggles in front of you, and sigh at the subconscious jottings of things you wrote without realising, such as ‘I’m hungry.’ Anyway, I think this is a review. Enjoy!

THE HARD PROBLEM by Tom Stoppard, Director - Nicholas Hytner, Designer - Bob Crowley, Lighting - Mark Henderson, The National Theatre, 2015, Credit: Johan Persson.
THE HARD PROBLEM by Tom Stoppard, Director – Nicholas Hytner, Designer – Bob Crowley, Lighting – Mark Henderson, The National Theatre, 2015, Credit: Johan Persson.

I went to see a screening of The Hard Problem last week at my local theatre. The problem with not being rich, famous or the holder of tickets for press night is that essentially you cannot provide ‘a scoop’ for your audience, or the 13 readers of this blog. The play ends on the 27 May, and overall I did kind of enjoy it. I didn’t regret paying for a ticket (being an ‘ex’-usher, I’d become accustomed to free theatre), but maybe that’s just because I couldn’t overspend at the interval (of which there was not one.)

I’ve seen a few screenings over the last few years and am into the idea of them. I read an interesting article in the Sunday Times’ Culture magazine this weekend by Bryan Appleyard about the lack of fair distribution of the arts around the country, as opposed to JUST LONDON. It seems, although we already know this, cause like, DUH, London receives just SACKFULS of more funding for arts/culture stuff than anywhere else – and last week’s result of an all-blue government makes me feel, a bit, well, depressed about this. It isn’t all ‘their’ fault, and Bryan even states that it was in fact under New Labour that the arts began to ‘fail’. He adds, however, that the Coalition followed with an “utter indifference.”

He goes on to say the regional arts divide is ‘intolerable’: “Residents of County Durham have paid £34m into the arts lottery since 1995, and received £12m in arts funding in return. The City of Westminster has contributed £14.5m and received £408m.” *jaw drops to ground.*

Anyway, screenings are IMPORTANT, comrades. (Interestingly, though – I managed to see Behind the Beautiful Forevers a couple of weeks ago AT the National itself for a fiver, but paid £15 to see a screening of this. So there’s that. I don’t know what I’m trying to say.)

My only beef with screenings is that we don’t really get to see it how it’s seen. It makes me think of the BBC Four ‘Go Slow’ season: (the two hour canal boat ride, a tour around the National Gallery) uninterrupted television.

With The Hard Problem, however, I found myself getting annoyed at the (otherwise skilful) camerawork. Yes, it was skilful, with great angles and high-quality shots. But for Christ’s sake, let me see! At every transition, the camera panned up to the top of the stage, so we couldn’t see the set changes. I just had total screening FOMO. I wanted to see stagehands all in black, shuffling around in darkness! Isn’t that the joie du théâtre, darling?

I spent most of the show drawing varying sizes of question marks on my notepad. Now, I know it is wrong in the ‘art of reviewing’ to strongly put forward your own opinion of something without considering different perspectives.

I was – as a reviewer – ‘supposed’ to be commenting on the position of the play within the industry, what it ‘meant’ as Stoppard’s first play at the National since 2002, Nicholas Hytner’s last work in his Artistic Directorship. But it was Olivia Vinall’s portrayal of Hilary that didn’t sit with me right.

I have to admit – that’s why I went to watch. She played Cordelia in King Lear alongside Anna Nicole Smith last year, and I wanted to see her in something totally different. (She has also played Ophelia/Juliet – the National’s babe du jour.)

She was shouty. At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt, after all, I was watching a screening and perhaps it was a problem with microphones, or her ‘projection’ wasn’t working well on camera.

But then none of the other actors had that problem and, fair enough, she had TONNES of words to say. Ophelia doesn’t say much. Cordelia buggers off very quickly. And – I know nowt about brain science, or neurology – but it just seemed like she was reeling off the words at times, just going through the motions. And shouty kinds of reeling off. Sorry, Olivia. I tuned out.

However, there were things in the play that just worked, so well, and made for most delightful watching. Much of this was down to Hytner’s directorial choices, with a particular highlight when Spike, played by Damien Molony, gave in to Hilary’s pleas and kneeled down to pray…at the light of the minibar. It was a small and simple motion but one that’s stuck with me all day. Signs of class in a renowned director who the National Theatre has recently waved goodbye to.

The set design was another highlight, and although I wouldn’t usually notice things like this, my best mate studies it at *drama school* so I like to take note and report back to him. It was very sleek and functional, not too much or too little. The lighting fixture at the top of the screen effectively represented neurons in the brain, and ‘sparked up’ at every transition, of which there were five or six. It was used to great effect too to create fireworks on Bonfire Night – a significant night for the main characters for reasons I simply CANNOT disclose for spoiler alert reasons, but yes, it was a moment where the penny dropped for me with some simple nifty lighting. A suggestion of a idea where everything clicks into place.

Interestingly, in the pre-show talk that is broadcast as part of the NT Live series, some playwright (of who I embarassingly didn’t take the name of) said you’ll spend the first third of the play wondering what the hell’s going on, the second third figuring it out, and the last third feeling moved by what you’ve seen. It did feel like that – very much so, and I’d be interested to read/see more of his plays to see if this formula rings true. (I may have misquoted the above, I was rummaging through my bag for sweets. No interval, oh, the horror.)

I’d give it three stars, but then again – was I ever even there, if I wasn’t really there? Oh, god, my head hurts.

Signing off, not in London,

T.A.L x

“Keep those eyes wide” : First impressions of Laura Marling’s ‘Short Movie’

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Artwork for Laura Marling’s new release, Short Movie

Hello, there! Hope you are well, anonymous internet presence. Since my last post, I have begun a ‘proper’ editorial job and am training with a lovely group of journalists, working for a trade publication. This means I have a bit more money in the pot; I can finally start listening to music again! It’s not that I’m completely opposed to the free distribution of file sharing/music online, I’m just not tech-savvy enough. Sad, I know. I’m like your dad. Although I lie, the following record was sent to me by a very generous music journo in the business, whom shall not be named lest I get stuck in a sticky legal situation. Thanks for reading! – T.A.L x


It’s important background information for you to know how big a fan I am of Laura Marling before you start reading.

I was sent the download file for her newly-released album, Short Movie, last week – and had to restrain from listening to it for three whole days – lest my heart couldn’t cope with how good it could be (last week was full of numerous pulled heartstrings.) ((NB: Not to be confused with hamstrings, having not exercised since 2013.))

Laura Marling’s music was solely responsible for the reason I begged my dad to get me a guitar for my 13th birthday. Up until now, the cheap-ish acoustic-electric model has sufficed, emulating (attempting) her style and learning all of her earlier, folkier sounding stuff, dedicating evenings after school, to record, re-record, film and then NEVER show to the world. Carpe diem! Rock n roll!

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On this album, we begin to hear a more plugged-in, electric direction, on tracks such as False Hope and Don’t Let Me Bring You Down along with some wonderfully placed microphone synth effects on the opener, Warrior. I’m a total sucker for an opening track – something I’ve pretty much disclosed to everyone I’ve ever met – and this opener totally sucks me in (ha ha, writing!)

Warrior hooks me in with its confident minor chords and fantastically year 8 angst-sounding introductory lyrics:

“I stumble some way on, licking my sores,
Tasting the memory of pain I have endured
Wondering where am I to go?”

I wrote the opening track of an album called ‘Hard to be Human’ when I was 12, with a lyric of MINE  I distinctively remember as:

“The nights are not getting any brighter,
To face you life you have to be a fighter
And I guess that you always knew that,
It’s hard work to be human”

 ALMOST on the same level, RIGHT?!

Anyway, I digress.

 Track 2, False Hope, is Laura Marling really sounding like herself – and as a long-term fan – this makes me fist pump and feel an immense sense of pride in someone only a fan who’s-never-met-the-person gets. Ironically, the lyric “Is it still okay that I don’t know how to be at all?” leaves me flabbergasted, as I have never heard a song about uncertainty sound quite so certain.

The third track, I Feel Your Love, demonstrates the intricate, guitar picking style that she’s become well-known for, further mastering her skill as both a gifted musician and songwriter. Is this sounding like the most biased piece of writing ever? I tried to write this last night but had to go to bed with a flannel on my forehand because:

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“She’s just everything.”

The track ‘Strange’ has Laura RAPPING (almost) which sounds really fresh and feels very inspired by her time spent in LA. There’s something a little Kimya Dawson about the spoken-wordiness of it all, The Moldy Peaches being a band I’ve read she’s felt influenced by. The open chord sounds she reverts back to in this song hint back at her third album, A Creature I Don’t Know, which took a lot from Joni Mitchell, whom I love, too.

For me, Don’t Let Me Bring You Down is a huge stand-out track, for no other reason other than: I just keep playing it.

“Are you really not anybody until somebody knows your name?” – how wonderfully concise yet right on the spot.

This song has made me bookmark electric guitars on eBay, with lots of 7th chords and blissful Sunday-appropriate progressions. Five years later, I’m still buying my guitars based on where Laura Marling is musically.

Gurdjieff’s Daughter, track 8, is a song that I can imagine a band like Belle & Sebastian covering. There’s something about the wide, orchestral sound that would suit Stuart Murdoch’s voice perfectly, combined with a cheesy fade out at the end. Still very much sounding like her, but a very pleasing shift in direction.

Track 9, “sending shivers down my spine” is Divine, and is divine (ha ha, writing!) Being raised on early-mid Beatles, my head swoons at any seventh chord, especially in a love song: “You’re fine – I’m yours and you’re mine.”

All in all, the real sentiment of this album is summed up on ‘How Can I’ with: “I’m taking more risks now / I’m stepping out of line / I’m putting up my fists now, until I get what’s mine.” She also sings on the track about “going back east where I belong” which makes me feel like pinpointing her directly and welcoming her back with my very own open arms, right into British festival season that’s approaching at a very exciting pace. I look forward to seeing her at this year’s End of the Road, my third time at the Dorset festival, where I’m sure she’ll bliss me the hell out and I’ll feel particularly lucky to be alive for an hour amidst yurts and frozen yoghurt tents.

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Short Movie is a total success; I’d give it 4.5/5 for its confidence and ability to both empower and reveal vulnerability all at once – something Laura has become expert at – as heard in her past 4 albums. She said in an interview recently that as a teenager she was often branded as ‘elfin’, ‘innocent’ and ‘good for her age’ – but this record proves she is, oh, SO, much more than that. SO much. Can she be my sister? I’ve always wanted a sister.

If anything, this review shows that I can sneak the word ‘flabbergasted’ into a piece of writing, (no mean feat, I assure you!) – my first ‘proper’ music review – one of which I hope will be the first of many.

the past 7 days – spent in Limbo, spiralling boredom, and art galleries

Some pic, Tumblr, 2015.
Some pic, Tumblr, 2015.

I’m in a good mood right now so am eager to write- thus providing the internet with a totally false, happy-go-lucky, carefree version of myself (which only really is evident for around 20 minutes in a 168 hour week.) So enjoy this you guys! (As I typed this, my speakers broke.)

I’ve had a strange old time this week where I have been under a horrific spell of self-loathing and doubt- that culminated in…nothing of value or use to me.

I wrote a blog post a few days ago basically called…”I’M IN LIMBO AND I AIN’T GOT A SAT NAV” documenting my existential crises of the past 36 hours with a lot of corrosive self pity and shameful put downs.

Feeling a little inbetween (see last post) has blossomed into a huge, weighty, dragged-down feeling of being totally in the realms of absolute limbo. (I googled “in limbo” after writing that, as I am often struck by these fancy phrases that we use in daily life so casually. In limbo! Language is silly, and weird.)

Some of my favourite definitions found (one’s I am relating to):

 

  • To be in Limbo basically means you are subject to circumstances beyond your control that prevent you from doing something.

YES!

  • a place to which persons or things are regarded as being relegated when cast aside, forgotten, past, or out of date

er…yeah YUH!!

 

  • in the Middle-Ages, the Church told people that if they didn’t pay some money to the Church, they would go to purgatory (Christian word for Limbo).

So at least now I know WHY I’m in Limbo. (I never used to put my money in the collection basket.)

 

I feel totally unworthy of things I’m applying for. I know that I’m not really, and I can do it, and I am so capable *exhausts self of hopeful self-affirmation.* I feel stuck in where I am, and I need someone to give me a shot. Maybe I need that someone to be me, and give MYSELF a shot to be more positive and not hold that metaphorical gun to my head every time I begin a new application form.

I didn’t publish it because a) I was in Limbo, with no Wifi, DUH- and b) there’s already too many negative, self-deprecating things on the internet, in my journal and in the world. I know I am feeling really anxious and need some time away from this endless stream of babbling consciousness when I write a sentence that is totally incomprehensible and lacks any sort of cohesion. Usually getting unnecessarily frustrated or upset; I usually cure it by reading a book, of any kind (i.e Princess Diaries 2), like : “Hey! Words do go together!” THUS, my faith in writing is restored and I leave the computer for a bit to go do something SO unrelated, like make banana pancakes, just to, chill, and like be, y’know? (I’m tired.)

Anyway, Saturday is my favourite day as I get to go to London and do some acting classes, so I usually end up coming home feeling pretty inspired and ready to add ANOTHER book based on Stanslavski’s ‘system’ & ‘toolkit’ to add to my Amazon Wishlist.

Currently, I am amidst huge, mounting to-do lists expecting a lot of me daily. They usually begin with SHOWER!!! – which says a lot about my lifestyle. I’m getting a few invitations concerning interviews for workshops and jobs I’ve been applying to which makes the dire process of online application forms and deadlines seem a little more tolerable.

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Meanwhile + ALSO: Last week, I went into town a few hours earlier than I needed to for three reasons. It was a Thursday, I’d a) had another rejection email from a drama school and needed some time spent thinking alone, b) broke one of my nails and needed a repair ASAP, c) planned to go around CV dropping, cause, like, money, and like, money.

On the way to do none of these things, I walked towards our local museum and was wonderfully surprised by the exhibition that had replaced the huge, yellow, swirling inflatable thing that had greeted me on my last visit. (It was eerily noisy.)

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Last autumn I went to a playwrighting workshop set up by Metal Peterborough, an Arts Council funded platform for local artists- where we spoke about the tricky process of beginning to write something proper for stage. I wrote about it here, I think.

I saw some of the winning scripts this week, at a rehearsed reading night, also at the Gallery. Part of me regretted not trying harder at creating something for the project (I initially struggled with playwrighting a lot more than I thought I would)- but the standard of the work produced was so touching and funny that I’ve decided to have another go at it. (I think the key with writer’s block is to begin with a pre-exisiting idea rather than a blank page. Jean Luc-Godard said…*adjusts tie and clears throat with a smug facial expression*: ‘It’s not where you take things from — it’s where you take them to.’) Anyway.

The workshop and playwrighting project was in conjunction with the group’s project of last year – ‘Metal Billboard’ – which culminated in the exhibition I saw last Thursday at the museum. The Billboard artwork posed 10 questions, combined with 10 artist’s interpretations of the given text.

  • What happens next?
  • Are migrants not humans?
  • Are you worth it?
  • What’s an Artist worth?
  • Why do animals exist?
  • Can you Fall up?
  • For how much longer do we tolerate mass murder?
  • What role does love play in economics?
  • What is necessary here?

(how about THAT  to clear your writer’s block!!)

In September of last year, 10 of these billboards were up around the city, my favourite being the ‘What Happens Next?’ piece, above above, that is stuck ABOVE my bed (so many aboves) which is probably the reason why I struggle to be able to have ‘lazy days’ at home- as I’m constantly reminded that I should be trying to answer that question.

Combined with this was the ‘100 Journals’ project, which was utterly captivating and eye-opening- I’ve been keeping diaries and scrapbooks for a long time and love nothing more than to nose through other people’s lives.

Unfortunately, as is the nature of journals – people (including me in a ((metaphorically)) double padlock kind of way) tend to keep them secretive. Stumbling across this collection of OTHER people’s journals, just lying there for me to read ON A RED CHAIR WITH LEOPARD PRINT CUSHIONS – I mean ????!!

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Isn’t it a lovely, simple idea: people keeping a collection of their supposedly mundane and everyday thoughts in a cheap notebook which is then displayed in an art gallery for everyone to read. It was nice to realise that there were people living in my city who were just like me, but due to the anonymity of the project, I had no idea who they were. Which is nice really, as they could be anyone.

I have to go, but thanks for reading.

I am working on a few pieces on paper at the moment which I will type up here if I get a free hour or two. (I usually have a free hour or two. Or three.)

All my love,

T.A.L

x

 

“I have a lot to learn & I’m starting tonight”

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I am feeling pretty excellent today, not in a really loud and shouty way (actually, I am always doing things in a particularly loud and shouty way) – yet I mean I was able to come home this afternoon and sit in a very cool room in my underwear and listen to the whole of First Aid Kit’s ‘The Lion’s Roar’ and Paul McCartney’s ‘Ram’ and not feel frustrated or hungry or crave a cigarette etc, instead just listening to the layers of instruments and thinking, ‘Yes. This is not bad at all.’  (BTW: My dad listened to The Lion’s Roar last night from start to finish and claimed it was the best album he’d heard in 10 years, apart from Fleet Foxes, well, duh.)

It was around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and after ringing a couple of friends I padded about the house for a few minutes, thought to myself ‘Jean Paul-Sartre once said, Three o’clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do-‘ and progressed to sit about just as Sartre would want. It reminds me of the time I auditioned for Drama Centre & the little old man asked me what I knew about existential writers (with a smug little smile) and I just said that quote, and smiled. I can’t remember if my audition slot was around 3pm, but my, what a line if it was. I wonder sometimes how I didn’t get a place.

I’ve just got back from a walk with my mother, which is very rare. We only walked the public footpaths around where we live but she still claims she’s never walked it before. When I said, ‘Seriously! I always walk round here.’ – or pointed to a riverbank where I once sat and read Beth Ditto’s autobiography in a whole afternoon (true story), she simply said ‘No you didn’t. Don’t lie’ and carried on walking, complaining of her hay fever and suffering her bad case of hypochondria. I love her very much but I think sometimes it is hard for us to be open with each other. It must be hard to see me growing up as I’m her youngest, and I think my incessant chatter about travelling and my gap year and continuous weekends stumbling home drunk (usually at 7am) is making her miss her youth a little. Still, she rocks and is my rock etc etc.

Meanwhile, I am luckily back into writing in the most frequent way for months; aiming to write for at least half an hour a day- with many of those half an hours spent scribbling, ‘HmMMM??!! What shall I write today??!?’ and then BAM!! Half an hour is up and I am a writer.

Also: reading:

‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter S. Thompson, something discovered on the endlessly delightful Brain Pickingsimage (1)

 

 

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Most delightful dedication ever written. Bob Geiger, I love your work (for reasons that need not to be explained here.)

 

 

 

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Greatest chapter titles.

 

 

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& Ralph Steadman’s iconic illustrations (which are sooo tattoo worthy.)

Listening to lots of things, also:

 

 

 

Finally, photo (1)

 

I promise I am done now. Thank you for reading, and for your patience.

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