Archive for June 2004

The actual horror…   Leave a comment

Right. Finally Caroline forces a bottle of spring water on me and we begin the trudge to the gallows represented by the school assembly hall. I’m really, really, really shitting myself. In fact, and I hope this isn’t a little too much information for you, I do actually need to go, but I know that if I even loosen my sphincter to the slightest degree I will fart so noxiously as to invite expressions of disgust from anyone and everyone within a thirty foot radius. Obviously this doesn’t make me any more at ease with myself either. As we enter the hall we have to sort of awkwardly join the queue of students in order to squeeze through the doors, which feels weird and silly, as though we are pretending to do what we are about to pretend to do anyway, i.e. “put ourselves inside a child”. Then we make our way to the front of the hall and I watch with an increasingly sick heart as row after row of kids in green shirts and black trousers materialise in front of me. I would estimate that the hall soon contained upwards of 600 people, which is a pretty big gig for me, to be honest. Of course they’re all staring at us, and I’m trying not to notice any smirking going on. Then Caroline suggests that we sit at the back whilst the matey who represents the KIDS SEX DRAMA INTERFACE does his little intro, which seems like a good idea, except that I end up sitting two seats down from Anne, who is the friend of a friend, and therefore a representative from my actual real life sent to bear official witness to my shameful humiliation. Caroline asks me if having someone there that I know makes it any easier, and I just give her a rueful look by way of an answer. I can see she’s starting to panic about whether I’m actually able to do this, as is Lucy, and that doesn’t make me feel any better either. I keep staring at the bit of paper that Caroline has written the scenario on, but none of it is going in at all. Also I keep taking little sips of water, but it seems to get absorbed immediately by my dry mouth.
Matey’s speech is brilliant. He introduces the whole SEX DAY FOR KIDS thing in a straightforward, non-patronising and yet humorous way, and you can see he earns the immediate respect of the massed teens. In fact he puts me in my mind of that percentage of male teachers that I had at school who one did respect, and I feel cause to reflect on their admirable qualities, and of what it means to be a decent middle-class guy, to be a good and gentle man. Which just makes me feel like a snivelling and confused dropout who has got on the wrong bus and ended up behind the lines of people he has already betrayed! Arrrrgh!
Finally he introduces Legs Akimbo, sorry, Snapshot Theatre Company, and I rise from my seat and walk to the front of the room with Lucy and Caroline, staring all the while at the floor. Then Caroline explains what is about to happen, which is basically that we will do a little scene, and then the kids will have a chance to put each of the characters on the “hotseat”, which means that they will have to answer questions truthfully, in character. Therefore a kid can ask me if I fancy Lucy, or if I’ve had sex with Caroline, or whatever the hell they like, and I’ve got to somehow be credulous within the context of the scene. After this we will re-enact the scenario, but the audience are encouraged to think of ways that will resolve the conflicts therein, so they have to shout: “Stop!” whenever they can think of a more fruitful way for us (the characters) to act towards one another. I know I haven’t explained this as well as I might have done, but we are meant to be 14 year-old kids. I should also mention that whenever I try to imagine myself pretending to be that age I get this cliché of a chav in a baseball cap with a voice to match, even though we are in Bottisham and not Hackney.

So, the scene should run something like this (although I should stress that there is no script or anything):

Lucy: “Oh my God, maths is such a boring lesson. I can’t believe Mrs. Wilkins has just sprung a test on us for tomorrow! She’s out of order. No way am I going to be ready for that!
Pete: “Well, there’s no point in getting stressed about it. You’ll be fine anyway.”
Lucy: “Well, what about if you come round and give me a hand with some revision. You owe me anyway after I helped you do that French stuff.”
Pete: “Yeah, but…oh alright. I suppose I do owe you one. When shall we do it then?”
Lucy: “Just come round after school. I’ll send you a text, yeah?”
Pete: OK, see you later.

And what actually happens is this:

Lucy: “Oh my God, maths is such a boring lesson. I can’t believe Mrs. Wilkins has just sprung a test on us for tomorrow! She’s out of order. No way am I going to be ready for that!
Pete: (gulps, then in very quiet, tremulous, and totally ridiculous approximation of working-class teenager voice and awkward body-language to match involving strange repetitive shrug and bad gangster-machismo slouch) “Yeah… but you’ll be alright.”
Lucy: (clearly shaken by simulation holocaust in front of her) “No, I won’t. I really need some help. Will you come round after school and give me hand with some revision? You owe me after I did that French stuff with you, after all.”
Pete: (similar incomprehensible mannerisms etc) “Yeah, but…well… I suppose…maybe I …OK.”
Lucy: (looking at me with genuine distaste, almost threatening me not to get any worse) “Alright then I’ll see you later. Send me a text or something.”

Now if that sounds bad, let me assure you that the real thing was approximately one thousand times worse. There was even a guy videoing it, which didn’t help much either. Unfortunately my recall of the whole thing is too good, because the imprint left by the overwhelming psychological trauma is so massive that I could fill page after page with details of the hideousness of it all, and I’m not sure it isn’t too soon to revisit the horror, even if I didn’t have other stupid things to do. I’ll just say that we had to do two more scenes, including one in which my dialogue, if it had been loud enough to hear, was so diluted by confusion and fear that it was devoid of words in the English language, and became instead a kind of terror-stricken mumble that only executioners usually get to hear. We also had to do the hotseat thing, and I was asked about who I fancied out of Lucy and Caroline and who I’d had sex with etc, and that wasn’t much fun. The third scene also involved Lucy having a go at me (I’d let her down by watching TV with Caroline rather than doing the revision thing, and then lied about it) and I although I was meant to try and front it out with her, I looked so scared that it didn’t work at all! Ah, the unending shame of it all!

Right, I’ll do a truncated version of the rest of the day and then I’m done.

Posted June 25, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Legs Akimbo, or I ain't called Um for nothing.   Leave a comment

OK. Legs Akimbo? Then I’ll begin.

Well, it was like this. My actress buddy Caroline phones me up sometime about a week ago asking me to help her out with some role-play thing in a school that she desperately needs a man for. Now generally speaking I can’t be doing with thesps and thespionage (I’ve even got a song somewhere called Why I Hate The Theatre, not that it tells you, ha ha) on account of having been sorta brought up by a keen amdram (and onetime professional) mother, and indeed, I’d rather be repeatedly punched in the groin by Mr. Blobby than watch Dame Judi Dench give an interview, fine actress though she is. So I sort of demur, explaining that I’ll probably be selling lentils on the day that she’d need me. I promise to phone my wholefood chums and I’m sort of thinking I’ve got out of it, even if it is a ton of money.
The next day I phone the Arj and, rather against the accepted patterns of probability, they don’t want me on the day in question. Still, I haven’t heard from Caroline, despite her professed chronic want of a man, so I start to think that she might have found somebody else, maybe even someone who can act or something, not someone whose last theatrical role was a hairy Israelite in Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat, sometime before puberty made its cautious approach. Eventually I get her number the following day via some circumlocuitous mobile-phone stepping-stone route and the bad news is that she still wants me. This thing is the following day now, and my unease starts to quickly evolve into something like proper fear when she mentions something about an assembly. She does her best to reassure me by telling me that her boyfriend did it once and I get a mental picture of the not-particularly-flamboyant Darren and I relax enough to agree to go through with the whole thing. Big mistake.
So anyway, I try to put the whole thing out of my mind that night by getting out of my mind and leaving my mind flopping around like a fish out of water and in beer and a lot of dopesmoke. Stupid, yes, but it wouldn’t have made a damn bit of difference if I hadn’t indulged. I think I probably could have taken acid on the day in question and it would have only contributed in a partial way to the overall hurricane-of-the-psyche disaster. May even have chilled me out a bit. You never know.
So the next day I have to get up and sort Syd out because his Mum has to go to an award ceremony because she’s been made Small Businesswoman Of The Year (this is a joke) and everything is a bit mental and rushed because it’s cutting it a bit fine for me to get Syd to school and me to Bottisham Village College by 9AM. Finally at 8:30 I’m picked up by Caroline and Lucy (who I’ve never met before) and while we drive we go through the bare bones of a scenario that I am told I will have to act out/improvise in front of hundreds of 14-year olds, plus staff, plus other visiting professionals, plus 22 Ofstead inspectors, as part of the Bottisham kids’ SEX & RELATIONSHIPS & STUFF DAY, as a member of Snapshot Theatre Company, . At this point my fear gives way very suddenly to what most people would call panic. I realize I’m horribly out of my depth in some particularly deep shit. Now maybe someone amongst you is thinking, ah yeah, but you’ll be cool Pete, because you’re no stranger to getting up on stage etc, and yet I cannot emphasize enough, especially having actually been through the experience, how different these two varieties of performance are from one another. Suffice to say that in my capacity as Um I play to smallish crowds on a regular basis performing music I have created myself (and, to a greater or lesser extent, believe in, , for better or worse) and I know what I’m doing because I’ve done it hundreds of times before. Even when I know I’m dying on my ass I just feel pissed off, not nervous. When I first started, I was reasonably scared, but I got used to it. It’s also acceptable to be quite pissed in the world of rock ‘n’ roll, which is one of the reasons I was attracted to it in the first place.
Suddenly we are in Bottisham and the whole place seems to be swarming with kids in uniform heading in the same direction as we are. We can’t find a place to park and so we have to semi-abandon the car in the car park because we’re on the verge of being late. I walk towards the building feeling like a condemned man, or possibly like someone who would prefer death to what he is supposed to be doing. Caroline and Lucy start to shoot quick glances in my direction because I’ve gone very quiet. This is because I am unable to speak because I’m too scared. My mouth has gone totally dry and I feel like I have a very bad attack of vertigo or something, because I feel like I’m floating. All around me are post-pubescent kids and each one feels like a potential oppressor. Some of the girls look a bit foxy, which makes them really scary. In a weird way I feel like I’m back at school. It’s like a bad dream. Caroline notices that I haven’t shaved and mentions it with a laugh, trying to gee me up a bit. I get a mental picture of myself as some sort of sick junkie from a bad film. Now I feel even more unable to picture myself as a 14 year-old boy. I keep thinking about running away into the quiet, sunny street outside the school, but my feet keep taking me towards the buildings. Once we get inside a very smart and professional-looking senior teacher type directs us towards the reception where we need to sign in and collect our visitor’s badges. This feels like going through customs with a kilo of cocaine to me because I just feel like I’ve woken up in the wrong body or something. I can barely hold the pen to sign my name. Then I look up and see a friend of a friend, who must work at the school, and for a moment we are unable to place each other, which is kind of embarrassing. Then we click and greet each other awkwardly, and she asks me if I’m one of the actors, whereupon Caroline intervenes before I blurt out something like “No! I’m not an actor! I’m a free man! And I want to go home!” I feel so caught out or put on the spot by seeing this friend of a friend that my guilty unease probably makes me look like the next Ian Huntley or something.
Next we are shepherded towards a circular room where us visitors are expected to mingle, network or at least exchange pleasantries, but where in fact I stand like a very large tree whose base has been almost completely sawn through and feel as out of place as I’ve ever done in my life. Everyone seems to be in their forties and they all look like smartly dressed teachers! What is making everything worse is that I have somehow got myself stood in a position where I am between two people who are either side of me, talking to each other, so that I can’t move forwards or I will block their view of one another. However, I also have someone behind me who is crouching on the floor trying to sort some folders out in boxes, and needs more space. So I spend about five minutes shifting about ever so slightly to accommodate the people around me, but getting more and more claustrophobic by the minute. Caroline keeps offering to get me a drink, but I refuse each time because I am so nervous that it seems easier to say no than have to make a decision about which drink to have and then have to speak out loud. This is the guy who has to project his voice across an assembly hall in ten minutes and has a mouth like sandpaper. I keep thinking about my chair at home, (where I’m sat now, mercifully alone) in front of my PC, in my wonderful bohemian isolation and it feels like its tens of thousands of miles away, and my brain keeps struggling to square the circle. I get a sudden awful realization of the world I have left behind by not having a proper job and becoming a so-called artist and the immense, yawning chasm that has opened up between me and the straight, bourgeois world, a world I can never go back to, even if I wanted to, because look at the fucking state of me now! In short, I feel wretched as hell. I’m having some sort of psychologic
al meltdown in an extremely unfamiliar setting because I’m about to be called upon to do something that will test me to my very limits. Cool.

Are ya ready for the next bit?

Posted June 23, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

I must have release!   Leave a comment, Exotic sex is urgently necessary for you!

I heard some people catch a helpless d0gs and other
animals, like h0rses, g0ats, sheeps and f-u-kk them. Recenlry i saw it…
They also make an extreemly s.e-ks.ual actions with an1malz!
They make an1-mals to l1ck w0man’s pooss1es and a-s.sh0les. W00men l1ke to play w1th d0g-s huuug-eee eerekted k0cks, they
mast00rbeit the1rselvez and must00rbat a d0g!!!
2 lessb1ans starv1ng for a-neem-al $eks came to stables and start to mus-tur-ba.te h0rse’z
1ncread1ably hooge and l0o0ng deek! 1t 1s reelly awe-some! They also leek hor-ze deek in cumm here
A mAn and a wu-mAn ffaa;k themselves and a dd0gy! Unusual S(E-(K(S trio!
We got TONS of piks hes and veedeos with aneemal-ffak-and-ssak-lovers!
A lot of fre_sh photoz are coming soon!
For oonsubscript reasons write here:oonsubsribe me

Ah helpless dogs, I know how they feel.

Nathan’s threatening a visit from Berlin so I’ve taken the Rip-Off-Me project (Nathan’s done about twenty one-minute songs in the style of Um, sort-of, and I’m adding vocals and further genuine Um-stylisations) off the middle-burner and put it at the front where it’s nice and hot. I’m pretty chuffed with it actually, although there’s too many songs about death and too many Sting impressions and nobody outside of me and Nathan will probably make sense of any of it. Still, a man has to earn a crust.

Computer problems are really dragging me down, man. Trying to work in Logic Audio is like trying to eat piss with a fork. If I wanted to get to a stage where I’d finished all the songs (50 odd? Maybe 75? 100?) that I’m working on, and had 24-bit masters, plus remastered 16-bit versions, plus instrumentals and special mixes for doing live, all nicely organised into clearly labelled folders with all the data associated with the song and burnt onto CD for later use for me to tweak or someone else to remix or dedicated historians of the Cambridge Scene to pour over, then I’d probably be looking at roughly at least a year of solid work. But what’s the point of that? Do I save the structure of the song as a midi file? Or make the midi sounds into an audio file? Do I save the VST instrument that you’d need to recreate the song? Or the effect plug-in it goes through? And what if the CD itself corrupts in five years time? I’ve got a few of those already. I used to put my final versions onto DAT tape and then my DAT machine started chewing tape and all the DAT tapes I’d made won’t play without glitches on other machines. And I’m using a version of Logic that is the last update they made for PC before it became a Mac-only program, which makes the whole archiving project even more pointless. It’d be better if I didn’t do about three songs a week I suppose, but then that’s kind of what I do…
My point is that even if you discount the above dilemmas I’m still working on a PC that restarts as many times a day as it damn well pleases, most often when I’m doing music, and Logic itself is subject to crash after crash after crash. One day I’m going to produce music on a rock solid system and work in an organised and disciplined way and have an established way of disseminating what I do to interested parties, but I bet by that point I’ll have lost the spark and be some sort of electronic Paul Weller, which is clearly the last thing the world needs.
At the moment I’m just trying to get some new material out for people to hear. The Strange Lights Um 7″ has shown a dogged persistence in refusing to become a reality, which is nobody’s fault in particular, although we probably wouldn’t have had to go through two sets of test pressings and three remastering sessions (plus some mastering jiggery-pokery at the plant itself, from what we can glean from the Czech lasses’ English) if I hadn’t spent such a lot of time EQ-ing my hated vocals into the bit of the sonic spectrum where only (helpless) dogs would be annoyed by them. The first lot of test pressings came back with very distorted sibilance, you understand. The second lot lack a bit of definition, but not so as you’d notice, and so they’re in production and should be with us by Friday. Then we just have to sort out the postcard and the written gubbins and watch the cash start rolling in. Shame it had to dash out the door in the first place, but that’s Andrew’s problem, poor feller.
Other than that I’m meant to have something coming out on Tripel, i.e. via Dave, which started off being an album and then became another vinyl single (potentially worrisome, as we know) and is now pencilled in as a sort of mini-album on low-price CD, which strikes me as sensible.
Also Ergo Phizmiz has asked me to contribute a track for a compilation (with a pirate theme, as in the wooden-legged, parrot-sporting variety) that’s got some people on it that some other people may have heard of, like Matmos and Scanner and V/VM, so you’d hope for a review at least. I sent him I Don’t Want To Be A Sailor because it seemed appropriate but ideally I’d have a good song that wasn’t 36 seconds long.
And I’m trying to do a new CD-R release just for selling at gigs, because I’ve been flogging The Old Album since last September, and what’s the point in having an anti-career in the music biz if your release schedule is similar to Radiohead’s or whoever. Ideally I’d like to release everything, including the shit stuff, on a bewilderingly regular basis. Other people do it. So yeah, the new CD-R is out soon, provisionally titled Giraffe . Advance orders can be placed right here. I might also release a sort of outtakes companion album featuring music of a lesser quality for people to enjoy.
And after that Andrew and I are plotting (it looks a bit like drinking beer, mind you) a startlingly ambitious Um DVD project that will really illuminate the breadth and depth of the Um project. If we’re travelling at the speed of Um, however, it’ll probably be a posthumous release.

Stand by for the tale about one of the worst days of my life, which happened last Wednesday at Bottisham Village College. I’ll say but two words by way of an explanation: Legs Akimbo .

Posted June 21, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

I dreamt/ I am supporting Damo Suzuki   Leave a comment

Last night I dreamt that I was in a tent with tiered seating with a fellow audience who were exclusively proletarian in nature and raucous of mood. Gordon Brown, only fatter and unkempt, sweatily squeezed into a suit that was far too small, was at the front speaking. He’d lost his Scottishness and was all North of England. He made some joke remarks about how he could be trusted not to be scheming to become Prime Minister. The crowd cheered, jeered and drank beer. A much fatter version of John Dunphy (who used to be co-licensee at The Boat Race when Shebeen ran the venue) stood near the Chancellor and broke wind. The fart continued in a sort of supernatural way, and Dunphy managed to keep it going as he took the stage. As a finale he lay down, raised one leg and changed the tone of the sound. He must have been guffing for two solid minutes. Then a young woman lifted up her top and made her way to the front to show Brown her naked chest. Finally a young man, obviously pissed on booze, waved a big joint in Brown’s face and exhorted him to try some. Brown took all these events in the best of humour, as though thoroughly enjoying himself amongst his kind.

Then I was in some kind of zoo or aviary. I was standing next to a cage that contained a monstrous eagle, bigger than an emu. Suddenly I realized the front of the cage was open and the gigantic bird flapped alarmingly towards me. I bent double as it drew alongside and reached up to touch its neck to try and calm it. The responded and a silent benevolence flowed between us. The eagle’s neck was featherless and furry like that of an ostrich. I told Syd he had nothing to fear. Then my dad said something like “that’s a wonderful old girl” with some feeling.

So what else? Well, I’m supporting Damo Suzuki next month. This may not mean a hill of beans to you but I was terrified at the prospect until I did the Strawberry Fair and pushed my fear envelope a bit further. I’m a massive Can fan y’see, and a massive Damo fan too. Damo is a sort of hilariously cosmick hippie seer who travels round the world on a neverending tour, using scratch bands of whatever musicians (or sound carriers, as he calls them for his purposes) he can hook up with to play improvised gigs (spontaneous composition). So, not only do I have to play in front of my hero, but also I’ve got a singing-over-tapes act that is the total antithesis of what he does. Plus I’ve been warned that he might well feel moved to join me onstage to, y’know, cut loose or whatever. What happens if he jumps up and tries to join in on the later stages of the 36-second I Don’t Want To Be A Sailor? I’ve been thinking I might include some of my weird reel-to-reel instrumental shit in my set, just in case he grabs a mic and I can have a sneaky minidisk player recording it somewhere. Anyway, I urge you to come to this gig if you can, because I’ll be fretting about it all going horribly wrong, and having no audience might be a good starting point for wrongness.

Right, its Sunday, so I better go and get some wine.

Posted June 20, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

The Promised Philosophy   Leave a comment

Right, so I’ve promised philosophy, but its hot, one of my kidneys hurts and I’ve got Thomas The Tank Engine blaring into my right ear. Its not really philosophy you’re going to get anyway, its more like some sort of discursive confessional.

All I wanted to say really was what a headfuck the whole Strawberry Fair wandering-freak thing was, even if you disregard the context of my personal emotional landscape at the time. Nico once told Iggy Pop that to be a performer you had to have “ze poison”, which I take to mean that all stage-monkeys of every stripe have to have a little fucked or broken bit inside them that they feel they need to reveal, and that is why their art works; because they have to do it and thus they convince. Even someone like Gareth Gates has the poison. So yeah, I’ve got a little black part of me that makes me want to do something like what I did at Strawberry Fair, even when I’m semi-unhinged at the time. That Alice O’Keefe thing was doing my head in too* I dunno, I guess that, er, as an artist or whatever you just keep pushing yourself towards this goal which you don’t really understand the nature of, like all the pressure is coming from behind, and it just felt like I’d pressed hyperspeed and lost control of the ship a bit. And afterwards I found myself wondering what the fuck it was all for, really. I was talking to Man From Uranus once about SPACE, and he responded to my characterization of the cosmos as big and scary with an assertion that he would GO INTO SPACE tomorrow, given half a chance. Well, imagine I’m Phil MFU and I’ve been to space and I’ve come back rattled because it was:


So be careful what you wish for, Captain Jam.

I was typing to K. Goater, my bi-polar chum, about our mutual interest in seeking attention for ourselves, albeit in radically different ways. Goater is deeply suspicious of arty wankers and has always questioned the motivational urge that transforms me from shy and dithery Pete into professional performing gibbon UM, and she concluded that while she was a weird normal person, I was just a normal weirdo. This sort of makes sense to me. I like the idea of myself as your typical, run-of-the-mill oddball, of which two can be had for a penny. Anyway, I know myself pretty well up to a point, and I’ve always understood that the reason that I perform is not because I’m “brave” like people seem to think, but because I can only really live in little bits, and normal life can wither on the vine as long as I get to sing a few tunes now and again. I don’t want to sound like Judy Garland or whatever, and I am exaggerating for effect, because I do enjoy fine cheeses and women’s shoes and so on, but anyone who knows me knows this stuff is at least a little bit true. Sam says she has to come to Um gigs to remember who I am, which is a bit sad isn’t it?
So, I don’t know if you’re with me, or if I’m even present myself, but I’ll attempt to carry on. The basic crux of the biscuit is that when I’m doing my thing at The Portland Arms or whatever, people (though they may be few) have paid money to come and see someone perform live at a venue, and though the artiste may have contact-mic’d tits or be dressed as a giant shoe, everybody involved understands the context in which all this keraaazy human interaction is taking place. Ain’t nothing new under the sun, or crappy lighting even. The performer performs whilst the audience stands about with beers. I don’t want to sound jaded, because I will always go to gigs like some people go to church, and expect to get the same result or better, but Strawberry Fair shook up my snow-scene a bit. The thing was, although it’s a festival, and you can see people on stilts and so on, it’s pretty random, a bit like actual real life. When you go up to people with a mic and GF777, they look a bit surprised. Some of them are absolutely fucking gobsmacked even, and you can tell by their open mouths. Now, when I’m at The Portland, I try, on a good night, as hard as I can, to both delight and confuse, but because there’s only 8 or 9 of us (that’s humour, it’s more like about 17) and because of the set and setting, we can all only get so far. And it isn’t SPACE, even when Chris Massey-Lynch is doing his projections. But here at Strawberry Fair, in front of an ever-changing tableau of people and tings, life was the gig. Do you see where I’m at? Suddenly Um was performing live, in real life! But there was no wise psychoanalyst to introduce my different personalities to one another, only drunks who wanted to steal my microphone, pregnant women who wanted to steal my beer and kick me, and lots of other folk with their mouths open. Don’t get me wrong, it was really enjoyable, but maybe enjoyable like running a marathon or something. I’ve been particularly grateful to those who said it was their highlight of the day. The best of these was on the Sunday when I bumped into Kevin Duffy, who is now a magician with a special and beautiful and magical moustache, and as he was rating me Number One a drunk punk girl who was litter-picking for food (cooked by Sam) started randomly going on about the superlative quality of that same food. I told Sam this and she gave me a high five.

OK, I’m sort of done. I just feel a bit confused as to:

What the point of doing it was.
Why I actually did it.
What am I supposed to do now?

I have been offered a gig at The Frogstock Festival (near Bury St. Edmunds) on August 14th at which I will utilise the box. I am to perform in a tree.

*(I just assumed she’d been abducted). The Fair felt wrong, even if I only know her from the shop.

Posted June 17, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

The unravelling of the spectacle: The Dark Side.   Leave a comment


I think I’ve narrowed down the potential causes of my computer woes to a list of four.

Heat. I’ve had even more problems than usual during this recent spell of warm weather. However I still get restarts during cold weather.
Some kind of inconsistency in the electrical power supply in my house. On the other hand everybody else’s PC seems to be OK.
Viruses. I’ve definitely had bugs, possibly from looking at racy sites for research purposes, but even when I’ve had functioning antiviral stuff I’ve still experienced the annoying bullshit.
Voodoo, i.e. some kind of curse placed on me and/or my PC by evil entities unknown.

I suspect a combination of the above.

Why do the fictional people who are supposed to have sent you spam email have such unlikely names? Here are some recent favourites:

Conceits H. Procreation
Carlos Chloe
Matilda Yer
Caroyln Delia
Gertie Kiana
Doretta Oretha
Pituitary K. Sobers
Joy Daysi
Saturnina Luann

Right, where was I with Strawberry Fair? Ah yes, the dark side.
Well, a lot of people insulted me, told me to fuck off, piss off or naff off etc. One wag told me not to give up my day job, to which I snarled back “tell me a-fucking-bout it!” A lot of people felt compelled by my noisy and confusing presence to start yelling themselves, and they often had poor comedic skills that were further weakened by Carling Black Label and so on. Quite a lot of chaps broke spontaneously into awkward mic-chat stylisations, and then seemed to feel defensive about their inability to perform. Many people, all drunk, grabbed my microphone from me, and usually I let them in case some gem materialized, but it never did. One girl shouted, “Let’s get fucking wasted!!!” which I’m down with in principle, but it just made her look like a twat somehow. Most people could barely speak once given the mic. Old acquaintance and scene legend Dave Shreck was struggling to work out what was real and what was drugs when I serenaded him with Just Like Kurt but once he’d recovered, much like a large and fearsome example of wounded game, I couldn’t get rid of the bugger. He started to rap but it was just some slow, slurred words with no relation to one another. He wanted to follow me about so I told him I was going to stop and have a beer, whereupon he offered to mind the box for me while I was gone. Yeah right. I leant some dude from Spiral Tribe my super-disko-cool headphones once when I was younger and dumber, and I never saw, heard or heard through them again.
I guess there’s just a dark side to any crowd, and when you have so many people getting fucked up you can almost feel the latent aggression in the air.
The worst bit was this though:
I kept stumbling into the queues for the loos because they were evenly spaced and they provided a captive audience for me. Hell, I thought they might even appreciate the entertainment! Plus queuing for a pee is a woman’s sport and random violence isn’t, so it seemed to make sense to me at the time. I was doing really well at the head of this large double column of toilet-goers, standing right next to the portaloos themselves, and everyone was y’know, lovin’ it. Then this pissed girl comes up and tells me to tell the people inside the loos to “piss faster”, which I do in a kind of singalongy way. I’ll have to watch the video of this to make sure I wasn’t a Nazi, but to my recollection I wasn’t. Anyway, pissed bint comes back and grabs my mic and tells the pissers to hurry themselves again, which I suggest isn’t very fair, but she thinks this microphone thing is a great invention and keeps coming back to hassle me to function as a mouthpiece for those to whom wit is a stranger. Her final, repeated request is for me to caution the bog-occupants to “STOP WANKING!” However, I am still only paying her about a quarter of my attention because someone has offered to go and get me a beer and someone else has plonked down a Stella in front of the box for me, which to me at the time seems like a wonderful example of artistic endeavour working perfectly in tandem with the wider society. Then the next thing I know a hand has sneaked over and thieved my new Stella, and I turn and start strafing the beer thief, who turns out to be a woman, with loud and passionate condemnations of their dishonesty. I’m so forceful, in fact, that she comes back and practically chucks the beer at me, and this is what she says:
“Piss faster! Don’t fucking to tell me to piss fucking faster, I’m a PREGNANT WOMAN!” and she gives me a huge shove and storms off (not before pissed-idiot girl has come up again and is obliviously hassling me to do her wanking joke again – in fact I have one of them on either side of me yelling at me and neither of them seems to be aware of the other). I have a bruise the size of a pineapple on my leg and I can only assume that it was sustained during this altercation. Needless to say I feel a bit deflated at this point, still standing as I am in front of a hundred or so people with a stupid tape-recorder act that suddenly seems a bit attention-seeking and silly, so I slope off too, and do a very quiet and sad Mr. Bump next to a pair of rubbish bins. While I am doing so someone kicks over my recently retrieved free Stella. I feel terrible about what has just happened, not that I think that I’ve done anything awful, but it’s not nice to be on the receiving end of someone’s anger, whether you deserve it or not. In any case there’s a bit of me that feels like I did cause it by being a show-off, and meddling with randomness and so on. Hubris, as Richard Brown would say while we were at college, in his soft Suffolk accent. Maybe if I’d had a bit more chutzpah or whatever it is, and given recent events, I’d have yelled, “lucky you, love” back at her as my parting shot.

Right, I’ll leave the philosophizations for next time I think.

Posted June 11, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

The making of the spectacle: Strawberry Fair 2004   Leave a comment

Take This Medication To Cure Ur Sick serve taunt

Life is shitehouse. I’m forcing myself to type here. Even the automatic spellchecker feels like someone imposing his or her will on me. Nah, its not so bad, but the aforementioned bummers and the comedown from my Strawberry Fair foolery have left me slightly behind and to one side of who I normally am, or something. I wasn’t really in the right state of mind to wander around through crowds making a spectacle of myself. I put off announcing it for ages and right up until the last minute I wasn’t sure if I was going to do it. I just felt obligated to the box, and to the idea. The thing was, with Sam so busy for that whole week, I was in full-on parental responsibility mode right up until 3PM on the Saturday itself, and because of all the negative vibes round here I felt like a stressed-out refugee monkey with a dickey heart. My fucked-up back was bad enough to make lifting and even bending and twisting fraught with danger, and I was terrified that it would go completely and that my childcare role would be in peril, Sam would go berserk and I would have to miss the Fair completely, including the box performance. By Saturday my hands were shaking slightly all the time, but luckily my back had held out and seemed to be on the mend. It felt like day 4 does after you’ve really done it, for those of you that have. Me and Syd did the Fair from midday to three, but he was just overwhelmed by it and we spent the last 45 minutes on a tearstained quest for popcorn, which had been promised but could not be found. Every time we went into Sam’s kitchen for respite it was tenser in there than the time before too. By about 2:45 we were late for the mother in law and had to race off the common, stopping only to buy a Thomas The Tank Engine balloon for £4 that kept bouncing on my face and obscuring my view on the long, rushed, sweaty march back to our co-op rendezvous with Sam’s Mum. I had to get back to the Fair by 4PM to introduce The Broken Family Band, and my mind was desperately grasping for light-hearted things to say. Got a lift back to the right part of town and was congratulating myself for the swiftness of the operation and then the moment I set foot on the grass I realized that I’d left my bloody fucking microphone at home. Fuckfuckfuck etc. Then I caught sight of Tubby Mules at the desk on the main stage, so I bustled over through the noise to ask if he had a spare mic with a jack lead on site (super-unlikely this, as stage mics are almost certainly XLR). Amazingly the answer was maybe, although we had to go to the acoustic stage to fetch the possibility-of-a-mic, which we did with aching slowness. Finally, after some sniffing around in bags and boxes, and faffing around with electrical tape, whilst a bearlike Australian did a relaxed performance onstage, The Mules pressed the maybe-mic into my hand with a further caveat: it might not work. I ran to the crew tent and grabbed a can of Stella and my box and tested the mic. It didn’t work. Then I borrowed a bicycle and made it move extremely fast in the direction of home. When I got there I did the same thing in reverse, but this time I had a microphone with me. I got back and did the BFB intro thing with some style, but my heart wasn’t in it. Then I grabbed another can of Stella and went for the box. I wasn’t nervous, I was mad.

Now, the Sharp GF777 may be the Holy Grail of boombox collectors, and it may be on the back of the first RunDMC album, and it may be worth anywhere up to £800 on Ebay (I’ve been offered fairly ludicrous money three times by different people – the last was £500 cash), but it doesn’t produce a nice high-definition sound. However, it is the size of a large suitcase and it is loud enough to turn heads even at a festival where a large PA system is playing nearby. And it has a mic input with a weirdly crap reverb effect. So, there’s no doubt in my mind that even Chris De Burgh or, y’know, whoever could have got themselves noticed doing what I did, and yet for me, as a performer or whatever, doing what I did was thee supreme heaviest thing I have ever done and will probably ever do as a so-called artist because it was so fucking full on. About two minutes into my wanderings I’d drawn a crowd of five teenage boys in Burberry baseball caps and casual sportswear, plus a couple in their early fifties who looked liked they might have voted Green at a push, so I sat down and tried to work it, ‘cos I knew it would work. Sure enough I had them and increasing numbers of others looking all happy to be confused in a short song or two, and then I picked up the box and moved on in the manner of one who doesn’t give a fuck, even if he did. And so it went on. Highlights:

Walking down the main thoroughfares. Sudden feeling for all concerned that they are living on video. Faces appearing and then peeling away from me, all startled like. Sometimes I’d be walking abreast of people who were trying to pretend I wasn’t there, so I did the same, which freaked them right out. It was also great to just plonk the box down and stop traffic.

The bit on the four-way stop area fairly near the Fort St. George where me and some alcoholic derelicts had some spirited mutual vibesing.

Muscling in on some good-natured drunken agro that some beer-boys were giving a couple of cops, and realizing I’d just turned up the chaos level because they all started shouting and falling over. Mad Andy tried to film this but the tape had ended.

Getting interviewed for Addenbrookes Radio and getting to use my “this is a protest against the war in Iraq, the environmental degradation of the planet and my continuing lack of profile in the music business” gag.

The bit where I lay down on the grass next to a queue for the ladies and did “You Give Me No Attention”

The bit where I got involved in a sound-duel with the guy on the comedy information stall with his old-skool PA. He won, but I tried.

The bit where I was doing “Cocaine Jihad” next to some sunglasses sellers and I was doing all that “Hey there Strawberry fair, wave your hands in the air, wave ‘em like you just don’t care, I wanna see your armpit hair!”

Having the same guy keep popping up with a blissful grin on his face. Like a proper disciple!

Selling only one CD all day to a guy that I couldn’t understand at all.

Having John and Charlie from Newmarket or thereabouts, Um fans since the Planet Beet Alldayer in Bury, come up and request “One Day I’m Going To Buy This Town”, which just happened to be the next song on the tape. John took a great picture of Charlie and me too.

The bit where it was getting dark and things had quietened down enough for me to be heard, and I did a few songs with the box on its back, and a nice little crowd formed.
The last bit I did where Sam and I wandered around and I got to show here what I’d been up to all day.

Right, I’m going to serialize this because it’s getting too long. In the next entry I’ll tell you about the negative bits of the experience, and maybe do some gonzo philosophizing about the whole thing.

Posted June 11, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

Pete Um is out of the office.   Leave a comment

Stuff in bold is from recent email Spam (verbatim):

u dont make much with ur current job nor repeat height
college close yourself heard nay different nine nay all resolved! independent argue arm point that exaggerate repeated gym broken, example new six trees particular satisfied any cry explain lady, stepped son circumstances him fasten usual person low. case sugar poison thousand changed!

Jesus Christ, the ghost of William Burroughs is sending me emails.

So, I’ve done no diary for a while, mainly because I’ve been a bit fucked in the mind by circumstance. Sam had our second 15+-week miscarriage a few weeks ago.


It was fucking horrendous. I would tell you about it but I haven’t got time right now. I’d have to tell you about the first one as well and it would start turning into some kind of epic of roughness.

thank feel farther itself lay. drink bird walk hardly lived supper plan address, taught spoke cried to-morrow almost planning table progress.

And then about two weeks after that happened my feud with our neighbours took a turn for the worse when they accused me for the second time of being aggressive and intimidating towards their kid, which didn’t actually happen but there you go. I’m living under the threat of violence and allsorts. Goes with the grief beautifully, I can tell ya.

Waste A Few Bucks To Increase Ur Sizeee ovular tarmac

And now this week I’ve got Syd all week because Sam’s busy as fuck feeding all the people that make Strawberry Fair happen, and I’m not getting a whole lot of sleep because I’m stressed, and this stress has been eating into my lumbar regions or whatever it is that’s fucked up with my back, and this morning, while I’m standing making a cup of tea, but not actually physically doing anything else (like twisting or lifting) I suddenly feel this burning ball of pain start rising up my spine before settling to rest alongside my left shoulder blade. It hasn’t done it’s thing yet and snap, spasm and popped into agonizing pain-where-you-can’t-even-breathe, but it will probably do so if I don’t lie flat on my bed for about 12 hours, which is what I told Sam I’d be doing right now, rather than moaning in cyberspace. Do people still refer to cyberspace? It seems old-fashioned somehow.

bored with life. Buy Xanax .

So, I’m praying for a miracle that I’ll be OK to do my childcare duties and be fit enough to carry a weighty and cumbersome retro-chic tape-recorder round Midsummer Common on Saturday. If anyone wants to apply for a job as boombox-boy or girl please apply through this site. The rest of you can throw fruit or cow dung or misfortune at me as per usual.

Little Diicky, U Better Have A Huge One subsystem diggings

I’m not making this stuff up, I swear.

Oh yeah, on my flyer announcing my plan to be a wandering minstrel I forgot the crucial bit of the whole exercise, which was to advertise the concept as a protest against the war in Iraq, the environmental degradation of the planet and my lack of profile in the music business. I was hoping to carry this off by stumbling around the site, drunk and rabid and yelling “I pay my taxes! Why aren’t I a celebrity!” through a megaphone.

Ehh, U Have Small Pe–nis, Help Urself quivering

Or to put that another way:

Waste A Few Bucks To Increase Ur Sizeee cotula evolvement fribble

Hopefully see you at the Fair. If you seem a man lying on the grass next to a very large tape-recorder do not attempt to move him.

Posted June 3, 2004 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized