Saturday, 25 October 2014

Saturday. Hitler, Hell and the walking dead of Hastings.

Last night I had one of my occasional ‘big nights out’ and went to see British Sea Power and a full brass band at the De La Warr Pavilion. It was pretty extraordinary. I’ve been a really big fan for years and have seen them a few times, but not with this kind of accompaniment. For the uninitiated - here’s a sample. They are playing the Barbican tonight, would love to have been there.

After a really difficult few weeks I needed the break, I didn’t get any feedback on the work I had done which was being presented to clients earlier that day - so I was fairly tense. I took my seat, which was at the end of a row near as aisle - and as the place filled up - directly adjacent to me a young couple in their late 20’s rolled up with two small children (twin girls, aged about 3 years old ) and a large bag of kids stuff - they took up the whole row. They wore good, trendy clothes, were both really attractive and middle class looking, and had permanent fixed smiles - the kids were horribly cute and precocious, and TOO YOUNG. A 2 hour show, seated, for a musical event, with 3 year old trophy children was always going to end in tears, especially if you are the kind of smug, entitled parents who let their kids do what they want - which included dancing next to me, falling over and into me repeatedly, and stamping on a raised wooden platform that was attached to my chair. The parents were either dealing with one child who was whimpering, or kneeling in front of me trying to stop the other from running away - but allowing them to practice their ballet moves. It got to the point where I was about to leave out of sheer frustration as the red mist descended - someone I know who was in the balcony said that they could see me with my head in my hands. Fortunatly - just as I was about to snap - they decided that two crying children was too much and made a performance of leaving, to the audible relief of about 20 people. Directly in front of me an older couple got up and walked out soon after, according to my ‘man on the inside’ - they thought it was going to be an evening of sea shanties and demanded their money back. Reminded me of the time I went to see Sheila Hancock in a revival of The Anniversary in Liverpool - the couple in front hadn’t done their research and were… yes, you’ve guessed it… on their anniversary. They left at the interval, clearly distressed - I don’t think their relationship was going to last much longer.

The rest of the evening was sublime, and I met some friends and went for a drink in the ‘Albatross’ private members club afterwards - I had to be signed in, old-school style.  I know them well, we are very similar in many ways and have a almost identical back story - but they have been a happy couple since their 20’s and have decades of shared history - something I seem to have forgotten to acquire for myself. 

Two pints of lager and a £22 taxi ride home later - I was exhausted and woke up today with the worst hangover of my life - probably more from being very tired and run down than anything else (two pints, come on!!).

Today - I was one of the first people to get into ‘Realm of the Unmentionable’ at the Jerwood - the new show by the Chapman Brothers. I loved it. It’s on until January and if you get the chance, you must go. take children if you have them - they love this sort of horror. In one room there is their giant depiction of Hell, thousands of tiny figures in torment in a Nazi themed Hades - grotesque and fascinating at the same time - and really, really funny ( much of the work was hysterically funny, under the veil of horror). In another room was something unexpected, and far more shocking and moving - they had dropped the ceiling down to 5 feet - so you had to crawl into a large white room with only one tiny picture at the end. A small, unexceptional, but quite nice little still life. The shock is in the signature ‘A Hitler’. I know that they bought a selection of Hitler’s terrible landscapes a few years ago and added rainbows and flowers to cheer them up - but this was untouched. The shock was in the juxtaposition - this tiny, modest painting was actually quite sweet, I’d have hung it in my house, - it was really disturbing to look at the delicate brushstrokes and realise that the same hands that made these sweet, inoffensive marks were the same hands that unleaded greater horrors in the world than anything depicted in the tableaux of hell in the other room. 

After about an hour I left - the gallery was already pretty full - I hope the show is a great success for them - I’m a member so I can go in any time I like. Here's a review from the Guardian and BBC4 are doing a show about it next week.

I came home, did a bit of general cleaning up and pretty much sparked out. I’m really tired - I have several meetings next week - I need to persuade someone to pay a large invoice and I have quite a bit of creative work to start. I overheard someone talking about Xmas in the COOP, my blood ran cold.

There was a Zombie walk in Hastings today - several hundred people dressed as the Undead ( no connection to The Champman’s - it happens regularly). Some were quite convincing, most were laughing and a bit pissed. On the pavement on the way home there was half a dead rabbit, back half - entrails everywhere. I felt like the show had followed me home.

I’m going to see Belle and Sebastian next week - I’m just a bit excited already.

I mentioned face-blindness a few weeks ago, I probably didn't explain it very well. Here's a better example. If, like me - you cannot reconcile the 'new' Renee Zellweger with the old one ( and I am 100% convinced that they are actually different people ) - you'll understand what it's like for me almost every day. That disconcerting, confusing, frightening feeling that you just don't know who the person you are talking to actually is.

Friday, 24 October 2014

7.15 am Friday morning, still dark.

Well, that's depressing.

I've managed to do about 10 days work this week - I'm exhausted. Managed to get everything finished last night and it's being presented to the client today, hopefully they will go with one of my routes - I'm presenting 5 - there is another route that was developed alongside. (It's branding and visual language for a new chain of pharmacists that will be popping up on the high street soon). You might assume that a high profile UK wide brand might be a well paid job, I can assure you it isn't - but I'm looking forward to seeing it on the 'street', as it were.

I'm out tonight, am going to see British Sea Power at the De La Warr with a full brass band - beat that.

Tonight is the opening of the new show by the Chapman Brothers at the Jerwood Gallery, I contributed towards the Artfund kickstarter so I guess that makes me a Patron of the arts, on the list of contributors is Nicholas Serota - so I guess I've gone up in the world. The exciting part (which alas I'll be missing ) is that my friend Michelle will be part of the event, tattooing Chapman Brothers designs directly onto 'punters' during the show. I'm not a fan of permanent body modification myself - but Michelle is a professional tattooist with her own business and very thorough. I think it's hysterical that they came up with the idea in the first place. The show opens to the public tomorrow. As part of my 'reward' for contributing - I received a packet of temporary tattoos. I won't be using them on myself. My tenuous connection to the Chapmans goes all the way back to being at college with them, living next door to one of them for a few years, and suggesting a house in New Cross to the older brother that he eventually bought. I guess that makes me very slightly famous in my own right, by association and anecdote.

The house smells really damp - not great. I could do without that. I'm actually off all weekend, having worked the last two - and hopefully I'll have some time to catch up. Mostly on sleep. It's still really warm, but really wet, and dark. Thick mist outside.

I seem to have quite a lot of work on next week. All the packaging I did for Dyke and Dean has already sold out - and the response from habitat, Heals and some European retailers has been fantastic - I have to capitalise on that. I'm doing some print work next week and later today I have to talk to the director of that documentry about French Connection. Still don't actually have any money and and tumbling into debt - but I have my health, just about. I caught sight of myself in the mirror the other morning and thought I looked terrible.

One of the dogs managed to get into my bedroom, she shredded the duvet - looks like it's been snowing in there.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014


Today, as I was leaving the house, I caught sight of myself in the mirror - I was purple, this may have had something to do with being very angry. I've had 2 days of working until very late on a project that as been managed so differently to the way I would have done it - it's horribly frustrating, and makes me wonder why I still bother. I hate the result, it's being shown to the client later today and I'm convinced that they will either hate everything or go for a solution that is teeth grittingly awful.

I'm getting a few hours respite while I catch up on other things, but still not calmed down much.

It's suddenly very cold. It;'s a shock, but I'll be OK in a few days when I've got used to it. At least it isn't raining.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Monaday night

Today has been a bit shit, work wise - and very frustrating. 10pm and still struggling with a badly organised, badly brief piece of work.

I moved the furniture around earlier to let off steam, seem to have totally lost all sense of spacial awareness, made a complete mess of things, and the dogs HATE the changes.

I have to talk to the director of a C4 documentary about some work I did years ago that became high profile and very 'controversial' - and the ongoing court cases etc about attribution and all that bollocks, I really don't know what to do with that one - I have some fairly comprehensive archives and all the factual information they need. If I help - I'm not sure how I'll end up - if I don't, they will get things wrong - and I've been fucked about too much already. Not keen on the idea of being on telly.

Working at home tomorrow due to anticipated storm, as I may end up on the kitchen roof with a hammer and nails again.


Waiting for another large and unnecessary piece of former shop furniture to arrive at the house - moved a lot of furniture around yesterday to accommodate it - I'm turning the front room into a studio - I've never been the kind of person that sits and watched television.

Bonfire night here on Saturday - quite enjoyed it - thousands of people, I left before it got too messy and too drunk. Have a friend who lives in town so the vantage point of his front garden was ideal. Got chatting to one of his mates called 'Danny' - turned out he was the 'superstar DJ' Danny Rampling. I have to confess that's an entire genre that has passed me by, I have no idea whatsoever what he does. Nice bloke. I had to leave because there was a drunk girl there 'down from London' who was exploiting the occasion to be as phenomenally rude as possible to everyone. I couldn't be bothered.

Bought the Vivienne Westwood autobiography. I cannot be the only person who gets a thrill when they pick up a book and it's actually much bigger than you expected, I blame the small portions my parents would feed us as children. It's very well produced, they have used some very nice typefaces and an open wove paper with a warm, pulpy feel - the kind that holds a lot of air - so if you tap the book it sounds hollow. I'll enjoy reading it.

I made a lasagna yesterday and ate too much - as a result I had a number of quite phenomenally bad nightmares. I should have known better.

Having a really difficult time at work with a very difficult client, struggling with the relationships between them, the people I'm working with and the actual work itself.

It's still unseasonably warm, a couple of years ago we were about to go into a blizzard, there are still things flowering in my garden and I'm sitting here in a short sleeve shirt with all the windows open.

There are two occasions this week when I may need to go to Croydon, dreading it already - one on Friday which means I'll probably miss another concert.

Supposed to be getting paid by someone today - need it, have let my admin slide a bit.

Lynda Bellingham has died, which is sad enough - but she's probably done more for the rights of the terminally ill in a short space of time than anyone of her generation - my father was simply processed by the NHS when he had cancer and almost certainly had treatment he neither needed nor wanted - but simple accepted it. People do need to be able to make their own choices.

My own connection with Lynda Bellingham is so tenuous it's comic. In the Oxo adds, she had a daughter - an actress who's parents ran a small theatre school in Whitechapel during the early 1990's when I lived their. They were a bunch of delusional oddballs - working their way through a number of talentless wannabees. The girl herself was actually an overweight and very tall goth during her 'non Oxo' time. And quite rude.