Archive for April 2003

View From The Fen With Pete UM   Leave a comment

Seem to have got another year older today. Truly, time is a fucked thing. To think some some people live to be 99. I was thinking the other day about my childhood, and of being at Primary School in Guildford, and I managed to tune in to the atmosphere of the time like an amateur Proust, and it just felt so weird and so long ago that it might as well have happened to somebody else. Even perfectly normal memories seem to take place in this endless corridor of sadness. Am I moaning? I’ll cease. It’s my birthday after all.
Tonight I did plan to use my special privileges to get me to The Queen’s Head in Newton (a personal recommendation from an experienced pub-goer) and rinse out my old man’s sorrows with Broadside, of which they do the best drop outside of Southwold, but the usual complications associated with parental responsibility are making it look unlikely. Shit. I’m still moaning, but now in the style of Michael Jeacock.
So, did everybody notice I did THREE gigs in London the other week? The one at the 12 Bar was better than the one at The Buffalo Bar, but the one that got tacked on at the end at short notice at The Art’s Café was the best of all of the THREE. Got on the train at Cambridge feeling jaded, tired and weirded-out but arrived at the venue with the sense of equanimity that only a substantial amount of liquor can produce. Being in rock, as I am, you end up playing in a lot of black cuboids situated underground, but the Art’s café is a square room with large windows and a very high ceiling, which makes for a nice friendly open atmosphere. Some guy, perhaps the chef, was making proper pizzas and they must have been good because everyone seemed to be eating them. The promoter offered me a drink and I accepted with a mischievous yet rueful laugh. Then Scout Niblett, who I was supporting, introduced herself. I didn’t know anything about her, because I’m an idiot, but apparently she lives in Indiana or somewhere and hangs out with Songs: Ohia matey, but she’s from Nottingham originally. She’s really cool, and her show was fucking ace, especially the bit where she just plays drums and sings. Go and see her play with Smog and The Hot Chip on the 7th May (is that right?). I wish I’d bought her record.
I had a good gig. Place was packed out, and I think it was seven quid on the door. Only problem was that there was an abstract nude on the wall behind the stage, and I tried to do an abstract fondle of the woman’s bits at one point for a cheap laugh, so that was the memory that had me wincing in the hungover morning. I sold a few CDs (one to the soundman, always a good sign) but I could have sold the lot if the room wasn’t so packed you literally couldn’t move, or if I could have hung around at the end. Met some nice people. Sorted me out again. Huzzah.

Posted April 28, 2003 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

How Ed and I almost slept rough in Letchworth   1 comment

Did a gig the other day at The Buffalo Bar in Islington. Went down with Eddy drinking Banrock Station on the train. Nice place with good PA. Had to ask the soundboy to turn the monitors down, which is a first. I just wasn’t used to hearing the minidisk so clearly, and it interfered with my singing. Manageress woman had skin-tight denims and a Shakatak T-Shirt, but she wasn’t having my double-tequila-for-one-free-drink-voucher ploy.
Nick gets me more nervous by telling me two blokes are there from Mute. The gig goes OK but I feel I’m getting through to a few random individuals in the crowd rather than blowing the collective mind. The fact that no-one is obviously gasping at the brilliant newness of it all makes me get a bit aggressive, and I realise I’m stalking about onstage being self-consciously weird in an effort to psych the buggers out, which is killing all the friendly vibe that serves me best, even when I am whining about death and so on. At one point I see one of the guys that I imagine to be from Mute resting is head on a ledge. Nothing random and amusing happens, which would have broken the ice, which was disappointing.
Afterwards I wander around trying to be approached but no one rushes up with an ego bandage. An Italian girl says “clever and brave” but it was shit, essentially. It’s just that nothing went wrong.
The barman alone buys a CD.

The venue is right next to Highbury & Islington tube station, and that’s only one stop away from King’s Cross-, so it could hardly be easier to catch our train back home. We arrive at King’s Cross with plenty of time to spare to roll the obligatory bifter and catch the 12:04 to Cambridge. There’s also a 12:06 but that seems to take longer so we decide in favour of the 12:04. We roll the bifter. We smoke the bifter. Time goes a bit funny. Drunkenness recedes and canedness whacks us on the forehead. Shit, it’s 12:02! We need to get to the other side of the station. We stumble fast, and then break into what would be a sprint if I occasionally did any exercise of any kind. As we reach the train, the doors close. We do that thing where you press the button a lot. The train pulls away. Shit! We’ve got to catch the 12:06! We race to find out what platform it leaves from. Platform 11! That’s the other side of the fucking station! Fuck! This time we really run, but I just can’t fucking do it. It feels like I’m moving in slo-mo or I’m underwater or I’m this really unfit cunt who’s drunk about 20 units of alcohol, smoked a joint and then sprinted with a heavy bag for the second time in five minutes. We get to platform 11. There’s a train there. It isn’t ours. Ours is right down the other end of the platform. Ed is ahead of me. He reaches the train as the doors shut. The British Rail guy on the platform gets the driver to stop the train. He stops, but then he refuses to open the doors, and pulls away. Me and Ed have really stupid and bewildered expressions on our faces. We can’t believe what’s just happened! How could we be so fucking thick!
The British Rail guy tells us that there’s a train to Letchworth at 12:36, and that there should be a bus from there. This seems really, really unlikely. Buses from Letchworth to Cambridge at two in the morning? He can’t promise us that this is the case, so we don’t know what to do. I decide we have to ring Alexis (who came to the gig). He doesn’t answer, and true despair kicks in. This could be a long, cold, really stupid night. We can’t decide whether we’re better off going to Letchworth. It sounds like a shit place to sleep rough. Ed rings somebody he knows vaguely from ages ago. No answer. Oh no! My wife’s gonna kill me!
Then Alexis rings back. Everything’s cool. We can stay at his girlfriend Lucy’s house. We are a pair of lucky cunts. We are especially lucky cunts because although Alexis got my message his phone doesn’t store numbers or something, so he had to get Ed’s number from some circumlocuitous digital route that I don’t fully recall.
We go back to Islington and meet Alexis. They’re all in this pub with some super-loud R&B (like, y’know, blues) band. I phone Sam. The phone rings and she thinks someone’s dead. I explain quickly that I’m a twat and she seems to accept this. Relief of sorts start to flood through my veins. I go and buy a pint of Guinness. I’m so uptight at the bar that various characters start to look at me as if I’m either a cop or I’m about to start gunning everyone down. I probably just look like I’m on drugs. Everyone else is really quite remarkably pissed. Mostly rocker types in denim and leather. I start to look around and all I can see is people with saggy faces and sloshy eyes, all swaying and bumping into one another. It’s like some kind of painting with a moral message. I start to think about what it must be like to play in a band for people like these; trying to keep yourself together to do your thing at 1AM for a load of seriously trashed folk. The band is pretty good, in their way. Very raw, ‘cos you get some real wanky cheesemonkeys doing that kind of Mustang Sally shit. When I used to do demo reviews for the Boat race every 6th tape would be some middle-aged rocker shitheads doing “In The Midnight Hour”. These guys are OK though, and I start to get into the weirdness. There’s this Nick Hornby type circulating around who either has psychological troubles or a complete inability to hold his drink. He wants to make friends with everyone, and he approaches one person after another. He uses no words, only fucked up little gestures that say, “I’m fucked in the head, do you want to play with me?” When he comes up to me the boundless ambiguity of my sick expression gets rid of him in about an eighth of a second.
Eventually we leave and walk back to Lucy’s. I feel really uncool about crashing at her parent’s house. It’s like that scene from Trainspotting, because me and Ed are ten years older than her and Alexis, and I for one look rough as fuck. Ed looks rough as fuck for two too. I’ve got ripped jeans, greasy hair, patchy stubble, a dirty suit jacket and an Osama Bin Laden T-Shirt.
Lucy makes us toast and Stilton and cold chicken and stuff like that and I’m really uptight because my usual MO at this time is all about cans of beer and headfuck spliffs. Eventually Lucy goes to bed and I ask Alexis if I can do drugs in the garden. Ed has a go at me for being an uncouth canehead but I say: “For fuck’s sake, it’s 2003” which still seems to make some sense of me even now. Alexis tells us that the house on the left is the residence of Alexander McQueen the fashion designer, whilst Dido has just moved out of the house on the right. When we’ve finished the spliff I don’t know what to do with the roach because it feels like I’m going to defile the posh garden with it somehow. Someone suggests flicking it into McQueen’s garden. I try twice, but it keeps falling back on my face comedy-style. Ed eventually has to ineffectually push it over the wall while we all giggle like young boys. I suddenly get a vision of the cops knocking on Lucy’s parent’s door and a new super-specie of shame being born.
The next day I wake up in a posh young man’s room complete with hip-hop flyers and pictures of speedboats and feel like awful, awful remorseful shit. I look in the mirror and resolve to give up live performance in particular and UM in general. I just feel really fucking old and ashamed. Creeping on creaky floorboards past the parents’ room, replete with explanatory note still taped to the door (unread), I knock silently on the door of the room where Ed is staying. Cats are prowling about outside it, looking shocked and surprised to see me. Ed is allergic to cats. He’s been awake all night scratching.
We leave the house unnoticed and walk into a surreal Sunday-morning world of Islington elderly types snipping at shrubs in the sun. We catch a bus to Finsbury Park but overshoot because we’re still twats. Then we buy the finest breakfast in the world from a bagel place. I love those fucking bagel places where they bake them there and you can buy s
alt-beef or whatever it is. At the ticket counter at Finsbury Park the old guy tells us that the train to Cambridge “normally” leaves from Platform 5. This niggles at us because we don’t trust anything to do with trains any more. We check the screen on the platform and sit down. I phone Sam and tell her that I’m about to board the next train, definitely. The train arrives. On Platform 3. We run like freaks, just catching it, and begin to laugh in a kind of tired, desperate way. What a way to fail to make a living.

Posted April 27, 2003 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

World Party/Acid ship/Um live at The Tate/flatpack disaster   Leave a comment

The other night I dreamt I was doing a gig at The Royal Festival Hall, supporting World Party. I started playing and was immediately beset by sound problems, but unlike the other night in real life at the Portland I managed to keep a handle on things and announced that I would return in ten or fifteen minutes. Backstage I started on the rider and Karl matey (who looked a bit puffy but still kinda rock ‘n’ roll, like a tour manager of a successful band) wrote me a cheque for 350 pounds. I tried to look blasé and then began to wonder whether I could work this unlikely event into my act. The Royal Festival Hall looked uncannily like The Mumford Theatre.

Last night I dreamt I was on a huge ship and I took acid. I was being really cautious and I only took a small portion of this grey microdot. When it started to come on I wondered what the fuck I was doing because I wasn’t with anyone I knew, and I felt myself getting claustrophobic. Suddenly the mood changed and I hooked up with all these people I hadn’t seen for years (I think they were from my boarding school). Then, trying to get from one end of this enormous vessel (like an old Mary Rose-style wooden ship but as big as an ocean liner) I found myself making way for hundreds of young women. Then I woke up with a sense of just having been in a nice place. I haven’t had a pleasant dream for as long as I can remember. Normally its weirdness or proper terror.

Thorough investigators of this website will be unnerved to see that I am scheduled to do a gig at Tate Britain in May. This is being sorted out by my No.1 nigga Adrian from The Teenbeat. I don’t think it’s actually going to happen, but I thought I’d put it up on the site before I found out for sure. I’ve always wanted to do a gig in an art gallery, and Tate Britain seems as good a place as any for a start.

Steve Adams’ ladywife Charlotte met Ivor Cutler the other day. Apparently he seemed ill, mad and unhappy but was quite funny. He told her that all funny people are sadsters, and that he was 28 years old.

Syd has grown out of his bed with bars now, so we’ve had to get Colin to put some on his door. I tried to do it myself but I spent an hour and a half on diagram 1 of the flatpack instructions, and almost ran out of self-esteem. Syd hates the new bars, and now wakes up extra times in the night to express this hatred.

Posted April 11, 2003 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Oxford fallout…Me & Thom Yorke   1 comment

Scattered sense data from the last month or so:

Last night dreaming of Burt Reynolds performing my song “Operating Myths” (unreleased) in a tuxedo with a band inside a big film/TV studio. I think this is telling me I should be thinking big.

Hanging out with Dimitri in Oxford waiting to do my gig. We go into a pub recommended by Steve Adams, who isn’t much of a drinker. A woman comes in and sits down at the next table. She looks exactly like my mother, only 15 to twenty years older. I clock her and look away. Dimitri is talking to me. I look back at her. She is staring straight at me. I look away and then back. Still she stares. Then she gets up and leaves. Didn’t buy a drink or anything. Just came in to pull a David Lynch number on me. Freaked out, we drink up and leave. Two minutes later Thom Yorke walks past us. He looks a bit small and gay.
The gig is shit. I sell one CD to the barman. “So, are you meant to be funny or what?” he asks. Not the first time I’ve had this question.
I get really fucking hammered, because I’m on tour (Oxbridge tour – 18th-19th March, 2003).
Wake up about 10:30 AM, which is about the latest I’ve risen in over two years. I feel fucking awful. One point Dimitri interrupts me, then asks me a question, and then cuts me off as I begin to answer, just because he’s a hyperactive motherfucker. My brain can’t handle this kind of rapid gear-change and I get a really heavy, shaky feeling. I woozily pack my bag and head out into the sunshine. I immediately find a bus stop for station-bound buses, but the stupid cunt in me has a plan to tour charity shops. I visit one, which is impossibly cluttered and busy, and soon discover that the combination of the heat, my hangover and the large backpack I have with me rule out the chazzer option. I literally stumble to the station, with crowds of young French kids snarling up my progress. I also experience that hungover phenomenon where I am rendered invisible. Halfway there I realize that I’ve left my cheeba.
On the way back I do really bad things like drink medicinal lager and buy Satanburgers from McDonalds in an effort to sort myself out. Realize I’ve left my CDs in Oxford. I never do this kind of shit.
A little miracle happens in London and suddenly I’m OK. This never happens. Evidently Satan is watching over me.
Even so, by the time I get to The Portland I’m in a rough old state and can’t make small talk whatsoever. I spend a desperate twenty minutes watching these two young lads who are taking a bit of time out from selling household crap (dishcloths and the like) door-to-door. One guy is feeding the fruity like the world is going to end. There’s no question in my mind that he was not only spending every last bit of his wages, but also the money they’d taken that day and would have to give back to whatever beggarmaster cunt employs them. His mate kept trying to stop him by saying “right, I’m going”, but he never did. One of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Matey kept crouching down to look up into the machine to see what was coming next.

Gig goes spectacularly well. For some reason I’m a funny asshole and everything sounds great. I sell the three CDs I’ve managed to find at home in about three seconds – two to the main act (The Chap). I raise the price to seven quid because I’m so confident of flogging them. Some poor bastard bought a recycled Grievous Um for seven notes!

Last night they were down to a fiver, and I was happy to get it. Worst gig I’ve done ever, probably. I like chaos. Chaos is my friend, but last night too many gremlins got out of the bag. My minidisk player kept stopping, fuck knows why. I borrowed one off a matey in the audience (cheers dude!) but then the monitors kept cutting out randomly, giving me the impression that the music was going quiet/loud/quiet/loud, although I later was told that the house speakers were cool. I’m still not sure because I went out into the audience at one point and it sounded like a really quiet, sad joke.

Vichy Government on fine form, but hardly any punters.

Posted April 10, 2003 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized