Archive for May 2006

Pete Um & The Death Of IBM   Leave a comment

OK, here’s the situation:

• My PC’s fucked and I’ve probably lost about a hundred unfinished/finished tunes, plus all the data for the Bumskipper project. Existent Bumskippers are now considered rare.

• I seem to have developed Repetitive Strain Injury from using the internet in general, and MySpace/YouTube/Ebay in particular, and using Sam’s laptop is only making this worse.

• is under severe threat of ceasing to exist whatsoever, partly because I don’t seem to be updating it and partly because I’d need to find a new host in the next month. I really don’t know what to do about this but I don’t really fancy cut and pasting a million diary pages into Blogger or whatever.

• I have been stoned for 20 years, drunk for 15 and doing Um for 10. My room looks like something out of A Life Of Grime and I have an infestation of clothes moths. Something has to give.

I wrote that about a week ago. A week is a long time in the world of Um, however, and although I haven’t got a record deal, joined the gym or got rid of the moths, things appear to be on the up. The thing about my broken computer and losing all that data was really bumming me out. I am a hoarder, you see. I hang onto things. Stuff is important to me like that. I have a mental problem in this sense. I cannot let my inner light shine on the world and must instead measure my sense of my own well-being in external piles of junk and pointless crap. I have many, many, many clothes, for instance, although I have got rid of a lot of them. At one point a few years ago I counted 80 pairs of trousers and then gave up counting, feeling a bit ashamed in the trouser department. This is why the moths in my room think they have discovered America, or some kind of New World. I also have a lot of books. I habitually buy books about music and musicians. I am some kind of expert on punk, disco and the early rave scene because of this. I, too, own a fuck of a lot of tapes, records and CDs, and I buy more every day on Ebay like some kind of super-ridiculous freak. Of all this junk the most precious to me is my archive, the zillions of Um songs on tapes, minidiscs and CDs, plus all the film material on different formats, the photographs, even tape recordings of family life circa 1975 onwards. You could set fire to the clothes, the books and the records and I would get over it. I would carry on. But if my house was on fire I would die in the attempt to save my recordings, and if I passed out due to smoke inhalation, or just got confused like I do sometimes, and was rescued by firepersons, I would struggle to come to terms with the fact that I had lost forever the physical evidence of all those happy hours in isolation making nonsense noise. Unforunately, hard drive failure is a thing that comes to us all sooner or later, and, given that I can destroy a computer just by vibes-ing it with my notoriously ambiguous spiritual aura, I have to be on my toes with the burning of the endless CDs. Generally speaking I do back stuff up, which isn’t surprising given what I have just gone on about at length, but unless actual failsafe systems are in place gremlins will always exploit Murphy’s Law and fuck you over the first chance they get. This, it seemed, is what had happened to me about two or three weeks ago. My computer was behaving increasingly oddly and it suddenly enquired whether I would like it to format drive K, which is where I had been squirreling all my crap away for the past year or so. For those of you who are not computer-literate and are reading this in the print version to be published posthumously, this was a very bad sign. My K drive had a lot of stuff on it. We are talking about 100 Logic songs in various states of completion (for the record, most of my songs are either finished or nearly finished. I’m not one of these cunts who diddle about with a riff or a beat for three hours and then go and watch TV. I have a sort of quick and dirty operating system which means that even if I’ve only spent 45 minutes on a track it’s pretty much finished, even if it is a little sloppy-sounding.) What else was on K? Uh…at least 100+ wavs of finished songs in both 24bit and mastered 16bit versions. That’s a lot of work, but 90% of that stuff was backed up, thank fuck. Lots of diary entries, photographs, drawings and silly films of me dicking around… tons of samples …a completed demo show for Transmission Failure, which is the radio programme that me and Phil are supposed to be doing for 209. That was a real pain because we had to get really high to do that and it was pretty surreal in a very vague and confusing kind of way. I was relying on the CD copy that Phil had to badger me to burn him but he BROKE IT like a twat. The worst thing, possibly, however, was I lost all data for producing the Bumskippers – all the wavs, CD art, sleevenotes etc etc. I could have lovingly recreated them but I would have hated doing it because it would have taken a fuck of a long time and it would be the most savagely piontless exercise of all time because it’s not as though people have been buying them anyway.
So, yeah, my ‘puter was fucked and I couldn’t even get it to switch on so we took it to Fen Ditton Hospital aka Andy’s house and he tried to reinstall Windows over the top of the old stuff (I get a bit lost here) but that didn’t work so we kissed goodbye to my C drive and reformatted and he had it working for a while and then the second I got it home it just fell over stone dead once again and so it went back he tried increasingly heavy data recovery programmes to K but all they found were some txt files and some exe files and neither of them should have been on K. The really weird thing was that K didn’t seem to be malfunctioning in any way, it was just that masses of data had disappeared. All that was left that you could see was a little shortcut file that seemed to have something to do with a USB stick that I have never used. For someone who did his dissertation on Kafka, it all seemed a bit rum. After running more tests Andy advised me to throw money at the problem with STABILITY being our watchword and the object of our quest, and so I purchased some mid-price materials that are meant to be bugless and it would seem I am now running a machine that more or less works, although I do seem to be getting some crashes on startup, and my web connection seems a little syrupy. However, I couldn’t shake this black cloud that had hung over me about losing all my stuff, and I kept finding lyrics in notebooks for missing songs and sitting in my room feeling really tired and bummed out drinking Stella with my RSI hand watching moths flying about in the gloom and thinking about how the Bumskipper project had crashed into the ground halfway through its run with only about 50-100 skippers made and Bumskippers 5 & 6 in ludicrously limited runs with only David Warn, one of the richest men in Britain, owning two copies of each. The fact that my website was about to fizzle out like a small candle in a dark forest only seemed to add to the utter futility of my past and future creative life. The present was barely worth thinking about, and I would have struggled at that point to do so anyway.

And then last night I was sat here morosely checking various websites like an arthritic old sheepdog looking for its tail when I SUDDENLY NOTICED THAT DRIVE L (hitherto empty) NOW CONTAINED ALL THE DATA THAT HAD BEEN ON K.
I am not thick. I did not copy the data and forget about it, or fail to recall which drive was which. I don’t understand how this could happen. Andy says the names of drives “…are not fixed in stone.”

Still, weird, eh? Consider existent Bumskippers now non-rare.

Oh, and the other cool thing is that we have a plan for the conservation of this site. It involves some Canadians, I believe. My thanks to the other half of the husband and wife team who have been saving my ass over the past few
weeks. I may continue to disseminate information, or whatever this stuff is, via other portals on the world wide web. Maybe have a little think about where that might be.

One last thing – I lost my address book in the fresh Windows install so if you are reading this and thinking that you haven’t been sent any stupid Um mailouts for a while, and you are missing them from your life, please email


I wrote all that about ten days ago. In fact I was spellchecking this document when my screen went black and my PC restarted to give me a DISK BOOT ERROR INSERT SYSTEMS DISK message. And that’s the way it stayed. Turns out my old IBM drive, the one with all my old stuff on it, all my old songs, pictures, writing, films etc etc etc ad infinitum, had suddenly bit the dust. In fact that was probably what was making the new drive get confused about which partition was which, because the old drive was intermittently failing and blahblahblah. Anyway, after more money and a lot more work for my man on Ninja Tune, who had to be torn away from his circuit-bending duties, I now, legs crossed, have a working PC once again. If you asked me to burn you a copy of Giraffe this afternoon I wouldn’t be able to do it, but in theory I’m back. In fact I’m going to upload this right now before any more of this evil shit happens.

Posted May 26, 2006 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized