Thursday, 30 January 2014

August 2013 - Power Socket 8: "My, it's cramped in here, isn't it?!"

In August we went to Edinburgh, but this isn't a post about Edinbrugh.* 
And we went to Rye - where I learnt there was once a smuggler called "Nastyface" - but this isn't a post about Rye, either.** 
No. To properly clear out August, I must finally post this: the unfinished, eighth and last ever issue of...

Sad times. Here's where it all went dark and then stopped. The obsession over detail, the cross-hatching, the bricks, all those tentacles. In 1987 there was so much for comics fan to suddenly take in - From Alan Moore alone there were collected volumes of Watchmen, Swamp Thing, V for VendettaAs I said before, there was too much to copy. I've unearthed a few more unfinished projects from that same year, so let Operation: Fang then inaugurate the tag "Unfinished in '87".

* This is.
** No, but this is.

July 2013 - Perfs

Cleaning out my bag today, of flyers, receipts, impulse-bought journalism, and that white stuff at the bottom that could be bits of mint, or rock, or - What is that stuff? - I found an advert for the film "The Selfish Giant". Everyone gave it five stars (by the time you reach five you really do have to count - five is so many stars) and I thought "Oh yeah, everyone said that was beautiful. I wanted to see that. Or I meant to see that. But I didn't, and now it's not on. This unattended stuff builds up. Maybe I should just cut and run..." which is what it feels like now I've reached this summer of exciting bits and bobs, about which I suspect I have very little interesting to say now, so late after, even though some were highlights of my year...

I mean, I had an excellent time working again with Hannah Ringham, on "Ghostphone", but what's that?

And it was brilliant working with Desmond O'Connor, Zoie Kennedy, and Jonny Woo on "Life By Misadventure". But what's that?

Well, it meant I got to go to Latitude. I've never been to a festival before. (There was that near miss with Anthony Neilson, whose lesson - "Let's never ever work ever with or for the bored" - played a huge part in then accepting Des' invitation... But then I also traveled up with Ian Leslie's "Before they Were Famous" and great as that was, Ian is to boredom what Keanu Reeves is to whatever it is Keanu Reeves is good at.)
And it meant I got to sing, and play an angry child. Epic, neck-deep, freedom-fighting fury. A real labour of love amidst all Des and Zoie's other labours of love. 


And then I found out that maybe I don't like festivals. I was waiting for some money to come in. I was running around looking for meal tickets. I liked the woods, and the tents we slept in, but not the bigger tents so much. There could be no mistaking them for a coming together at the end of the world. There was nothing like a community, even though we all wore 3D specs for Kraftwerk.

And there were no jokes being told in the big tents as good as the jokes we told each other, and no music as unifying as the clanging of the communal bogs.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Monday, 27 January 2014

Ten more monsters

Taking a break from the 2013 clear-out, to catch-up with the ghastly, hurried, compulsory monster-a-day "project", now with - eucch - puns. I don't make the rules.

 Dead Lion

Tin Ninja


P. Somerset Monkeyking


Richard the Bird

The Faceless Five


Coat Wight

Blue Lin (T.)

"One of them is a plain fish, and no doubt marketable." - Doctors

Friday, 24 January 2014

May 2013 - Remnants

May - Nunhead. After the moving, the unboxing. 

 This is four years' worth of shoes - every shoe I bought or was given since the fire of 2009.  When a pair became unwearable I would chuck them under the bed. (I seldom own more than one pair of wearable shoes, never more than two). When I moved to Nunhead, I found out how many that came to. It's this many:

Eat your heart out, Imelda Marcos. All now occupy a pile in the house's Nightmare Room... I do wonder sometimes how good a housemate I really am.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

April 2013 - Dungeon

In April I settled in Nunhead and returned to work at the London Dungeon, which had relocated to County Hall. (And Thatcher died of course)...

I had already attended the two day induction, had my security pass printed, had my thumb print scanned, made the poster of the Merlin Values out of bits of cut up magazine, received the security talk, and signed the thing telling me not to say anything nasty about the place, which is perfectly fair. I know no one reads this blog, and I've always tried to write fairly and fondly about the place - I've worked there on and off for ten years  - but I've never had to sign anything to that effect, and I don't trust my tone. For this recap of 2013 then, I'll stay within the bounds of common knowledge, and the public domain: It's common knowledge, for example, that County Hall is just across the river from the Seat of Government, and once housed the Greater London Council. (I saw a waxwork of Ken Livingstone in the corridor.) According to Wikipedia: "The faƧade of County Hall frequently in more than one year of [Margaret Thatcher's] tenure served as a billboard for opposition slogans. When the government of Margaret Thatcher abolished the GLC in 1986, County Hall lost its role as the seat of London's government. Talk soon became of what was to happen to the building, and plans to relocate the London School of Economics to the site from its Westminster campus were overruled by Mrs Thatcher, seemingly disapproving of further slogans from students."

Eventually, it was sold by the London Residual Body to Shirayama Shokusa - according to Tony Banks in the Parliamentary records for 7 May 1996  "a shadowy Japanese body." Yeah, but what's his angle? Reading on: "I am not an ambitious man, but I want to take horrible revenge on the London Residuary Body. I want to introduce an element of red terror to those who have stripped the GLC of its assets and sold so many of them at give-away prices. I want the opportunity to find out where all the bodies are buried. If my hon. Friends will let me do that, I shall die a very happy man."  Well, at least he's honest.
According to Wikipedia, then, Shirayama Shokusan... Ah. "Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name." I can't find a website for it either. I had a look when I heard sixteen Dungeon colleagues had been briefly hospitalised  following an injudicious choice of industrial cleaner by the neighbouring Marriott. Fortunately it went unreported, but the fact it went unreported got me wondering just who was in charge. And there's next to nothing. "Shirayma Shokusan", feel free to have a Google. I returned for a day's work in November, and was given two tubes of cream as soon as I walked through the door. Now there'd been an outbreak of scabies. Now I know signed a thing but, come on! Scabies? How cool is that! It was all very well handled. But this is why I haven't been blogging about the Dungeon lately: its still staffed by heroes, and there's a coffee machine that does mochas, but I just don't work there that much any more. And I signed a thing.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

March 2013 - Perfs

The Dungeon reopened in March, but I was Ringing. 

This is Warwick University where some of Ring was made, and the head on a stick used to make it. John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, Ghostphone, Life by Misadventure, Before They Were Famous, Gentlemen of Horror, Monster Hunters, Time Tours, Christmas Carol II, Ring... 2013, I now realise, was a year full of performances and short on rehearsal. Partly this was a money issue. But also it was because a lot of this was voice work. "Voice work" simply means you can't be seen, which means you get to read from the script (unless the reason you can't be seen is because they've turned the lights off) but it also means you rarely get to rehearse. In voice work, heavy breathing is of course vital to let people know you're still there when someone else is speaking. Was it not Stanislavski who said "Acting is reacting"?*  Voice acting therefore is gasping and going hmm.


* Was it not Kuleshov who said "No it' s not"?

And I can be heard having great fun doing both in Peter Davis' and Philip North's Hellraiser fanfiction "Piercing the Veil", here.
And tomorrow evening, I can be seen giving an unrehearsed Don Quijote as the guest performer in this.
And next month, I can't be seen in Ring at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, because they'll turn the lights off, but tickets are here.

(Speaking of Hellraiser, this rejected Cenobite is always good for a laugh.)

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

February 2013 - Scifi

Continuing my exhaustive and punctual review of 2013, February sees us on the water again, cat-sitting in Canary Wharf.

There were these lamps outside our window, behind the blinds. We could never work out how to turn the heating off either, but it's a new environment, these are teething problems. There are worse problems to have in February, especially when you're between homes.


My Auntie Megan used to teach on the Isle of Dogs, back when they were putting in the light railway. I remember when it was all fields. Fields and The Sweeney. Some of it still is fields of course.

 This sheep's probably older than some of the buildings behind it.

Thirty years later, the land beneath all this new kit shows definite signs of not having behaved itself. Bricks have shifted. Don't be fooled by the scale of the enterprise; like Venice, there's not a right angle in the place. No bill stickers either. Imagine what it will look like in five hundred years.

We had a good time, I seem to remember. Every evening we stopped off for beer and sweets. There was a pool.
Maybe I wasn't between homes. Maybe I'm thinking of the London Dungeon, which was relocating to County Hall, while its permanent staff spent February being trained on the new scripts.
I'm not permanent staff.

We never did see the cat.

Monday, 20 January 2014

January 2013 - Abroadism

As we roll into the fourth week of January what better time to look back over 2013, and all those posts I never got round to finishing? Here's January. January is Venice.


I was nineteen when I had my first pizza. It was a Veniziana. Twenty-five pence went to the "Venice in Peril" fund, and the that's been my default pizza ever since, so much so that the price of a Veniziana has become my own private measure of inflation. (That twenty-five pence hasn't gone up.)


Venice is covered in political slogans. The one above's my favourite. This was my second visit to Venice to see how those twenty-five pences had been spent, and Lanna's first. The graffiti is (are?) everywhere. It's nothing, toilet wall stuff, not art, and there's not a right angle left standing. Yet the city doesn't look neglected. Just old. But still very much alive. Four or five hundred years ago the planners clearly hit upon an architecture that could weather anything, and the results remain famously, obviously, beautiful. It's un-neglectable.

It's covered in tags, and crumbling and beautiful. And it's quiet. 

It's quiet in January anyway. Our five days there reminded me of something I'd wanted to do when I was younger - an aspiration I'd lost sight of while worrying increasingly, as the years passed, about what had disappeared, and about what it was I was actually doing with my life. And recalling this aspiration came as something of a relief to me, because I had wanted to do everything. Nothing specific. Just everything.


Do I manage it?  Watch this space.
That's January. Here's some stuff Lanna took (and the Museum of Natural History really is that good):

Venice on a budget

Venizia by day

Venizia by night

Museum of Natural History

Sunday, 19 January 2014

No, seriously, a monster a day


"A bit too Flanimaly for the purposes of this blog"? Did I really write that?* Like this blog has purposes. But see, I've kept my word. A monster a day. Where then are January 17th and 18th, Simon? Hahaha, shush. I'll make these posts more frequent too. The usual promised things.


Christ Kong

Now... For the 4th I cheated a bit, and used an old monster from an early draft of a thing, which is why it's so wordy. (I also considered the problem of the colour bleeding.)

Fathom the Starbat

Another possible solution to the colour bleeding: Draw nothing...

Your friends between the lines
Just one of those Things

On Tuesday evening  I finally got round to watching The London Nobody Knows. Hence this. (Marie Lloyd was the Queen of the Music Hall. It's pronounced Marry though, so this doesn't work. I highly recommend the documentary by the way. You can learn a lot watching James Mason. I wish he was still around to stalk the Trocadero, and point at rubble with his cane, and sniff.)

Miss Hairy Lloyd


Half centaur. Twit. Now, this bleeding. What if the previous monster is the shadow of it successor?

Creeping Dorfish/Dangling Dorfish

Yuck. The word you can't read is "kennel". Or maybe "discarder"...

The Discarder

Dr. Uttoxeter

Sorry, doc. I had to make room for a collage. That might solve the colour bleeding...

Or charcoal...

The Strained

Remember to fix it with hairspray!

Brother Bossmonster

 And be sure to use just the right amount.


This last monster was based on a woman I saw in the "Troll 2" documentary The Worst Best Film simply because I couldn't think of anything to draw and then remembered her face. I'm not convinced it's an entirely honest documentary, by which I mean: By golly, it's going to tell a story, so everyone is forced to find a presentable face to be filtered through their appearance in a terrible film made fifteen years ago. Really it's a documentary about itself. But this woman isn't in it much. She looks after her mother. She surrounds her house with signs warding off visitors. She claims she still works on her acting by watching the television and remembering things she likes. Well, good. Me too. (See above.)

The Nonono
* No.