Friday, December 31, 2010

Free signed copies of Kalix, la Loup-Garou Solitaire

A box arrives from my French publisher, Editions Intervalles, containing copies of Kalix, la loup-garou solitaire, the French edition of Lonely Werewolf Girl. This book is huge! It's an enormous volume. After reading about Kalix, you could easily use it for fighting off burglars, or clearing space on a crowded train. Or if you were at some sporting event you could stand on it, and get a much better view.

Rather than leaving this box of books cluttering up the place, I'll give away two signed copies, in a small competition. To enter my small book competition, just leave a comment below telling me you'd like the book. Anyone can enter. After a few days I'll select two winners somehow or other. At random, probably. Unless someone leaves a comment which is so entertaining that it has to be a winner.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Big Eyed Beans From Venus

I was saddened by the recent death of Captain Beefheart, or Don Van Vliet, to give him his proper name. I've listened to his records very often over the years. People mostly mention his experimental music such as Trout Mask Replica, but to be honest, I liked Captain Beefheart best when he was less experimental. My favourite record of his was Clear Spot, and there were other really fine albums, like Safe as Milk and Strictly Personal. All containing a unique sort of blend of growling desert blues and jagged rock. Maybe with some dadaism thrown in, if I actually knew what dadaism meant. Not being that great at writing about music, I can't really describe what these records are like. But anyway, Captain Beefheart was a great singer, he wrote a lot of fine songs, and he played with a lot of good musicians.

I saw Captain Beefheart play in Glasgow in the 70s, twice. Looking back, I'm slightly surprised that this happened. It seems somehow unlikely that the Captain ever arrived in Scotland. However, at the time, Glasgow was a big destination for rock bands, and everybody came there as part of their UK tour.

I started going to see gigs at the Greens' Playhouse - which later became the Apollo - in the early 70s, while I was 14 I think. Making a list, just off the top of my head, by the time I was 17 I'd seen these bands play live -

Led Zeppelin (best thing ever)
Captain Beefheart
Mott the Hoople
Deep Purple
Black Sabbath (Iron Man!)
Hawkwind (space ritual!)
Black Oak Arkansas
Emerson Lake and Palmer
The Groundhogs
The Who (floodlights, smashed guitars)
Roxy Music (Eno in silver feathered jacket)
King Crimson
Fairport Convention
Wishbone Ash
Sensational Alex Harvey Band (Big Glasgow favourite)
Uriah Heep
Lou Reed (in his brief 'blond-haired' period)
Dr Feelgood (? maybe that was later)

And I'm sure there were others that have escaped my memory at the moment. I had a ticket to see David Bowie, just before he became Ziggy Stardust, but the gig was cancelled on the night, leaving us cold and frustrated at the door. Anyway, that's not a bad list of rock music at the time, in these distant pre-punk days.

It was good to see all these bands, at a young age. I wasn't the only person to do this, by any means. Plenty of people I was at school with would have seen all these gigs too.

My big regret is not going to see T Rex. I was put off by the thought of all the screaming girls. When I was 15 I didn't think it would be very good to be surrounded by screaming girls. Because at that age I was stupid. Arrrghhhhh. What a mistake. Marc Bolan was one of the great talents and icons of 20 century music. I can't believe I didn't go and see him when I had the chance. If a time portal was to open up now in London, offering the chance to go and see Marc Bolan and T Rex in 1973, I'd be leading the stampede to get there.

The main venue in Glasgow, the Greens' Playhouse, was an old cinema, capacity about 2,500 I think, so it was quite a small place to see some of these bands. Led Zeppelin were playing in stadiums around the world, but I saw them in that small cinema. It was great.

* and you can read more about this in my fine novel 'Suzy, Led Zeppelin and Me' *

I saw Captain Beefheart play twice. For some reason, my memory of these gigs isn't as sharp as some others, but I do remember being quite disappointed at the first concert, which was at the Kelvin Hall. And then the second gig, a year or so after at the Greens' Playhouse, was brilliant. The captain and his Magic Band were on good form and it was a great night.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New British edition of The Good Fairies of New York

Piatkus will be publishing their edition of The Good Fairies of New York on the 10th January. Although this book has been available here as an import from America, it's quite a while since it actually had a publisher in Britain. Waterstone's are promoting the book in January and February, so I hope to see bundles of the book lying around on tables in their shops. It's good if you can get your books lying around in bundles on these tables near the front of the stores, but it can be a difficult thing to achieve.


My heart raced as I read that Scarlett Johansson's marriage has come to an end. The poor woman will definitely be in need of some comforting. It's time to relaunch my plan of hanging round in hotels looking forlorn, in the hope that I can meet the beautiful Scarlett and establish some sort of Lost in Translation-type relationship. I have the camouflage t-shirt ready and everything, and can do the Bill Murray ageing desperation part no problem at all. I have Just Like Honey ready to play in a big final scene. As long as Scarlett has the pink wig with her, everything will be just perfect.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ice and Snow

I've been shivering in the cold as London disappeared beneath the snow. My flat can take a while to heat up, leading to some muttering and cursing while I'm waiting to get warm. Once fully heated, I find it difficult to move from the couch, just in case it's not so cosy anywhere else.

However I have been carrying on with the long walk to the shops which I do everyday, because otherwise I'd never go anywhere. This long walk has proved hazardous. The roads were gritted but not the pavements, which became quite dangerous, with compacted snow and ice.

We had a milder day yesterday and a lot of the snow disappeared, but the temperature has dropped again so I think we might get more. I can't help feeling a bad accident is just around the corner. I may soon be discovered unconscious under a snowdrift, still clutching a box of tea bags and a packet of hobnobs.

The only thing getting me through the freezing misery is football, and I watched a lot over the weekend, much of it involving shouting and shaking my fist at the TV. It ended well for Arsenal, due mainly to the overwhelming brilliance of Samir Nasri.

Am now attempting to plug up some of the draughts in this flat, and stop the cold air seeping in. Unfortunately I'm useless at this, as I'm completely hopeless at anything practical. I should have learned how to do practical household tasks some time, but unfortunately I never seem to have managed.