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Two things:


Attended the first Songwriters’ Circle last night.

Much of it went over my head. I have not had the tiniest bit of a musical education. The technical stuff went over my head by a mile. Dan was apologising to the group for being patronising, while I was getting clammy of palm and sweaty round the collar, screaming inside “Run away run away! Too difficult! Don’t understand!” He set homework that might as well be quantum physics to me. But… I shall endeavour to engage with it on my own level, and do my best. I am happy to have the role of village idiot if it exposes me to all the rest of the joy of the evening. All of the others are musicians, of varying levels and experience, some have bands. Some have such prodigious talent it makes me wilt into my seat in envy and admiration. The best bit is, I will get to collaborate with them. (They are probably at this very moment, hoping they don’t pull the short straw to collaborate with me.) I am coming at this from a completely different angle to anyone else. I want to build coherent sound into my work. I want it to be good enough and listenable enough for people to take it away in their heads from my work. I’m after structure, hook, familiarity of sound, connected with a collage of recorded domesticity and comfort… and a small amount of discomfort, snuck in through the back door.

I played the piece Dan had helped me put together for my masters… just to show people what I was aiming for… I don’t really know if people connected with it… they were very polite and supportive. Time will tell I expect.

I had a blast though, listening to all that new music, fresh ideas. It is exhilarating. I will need to concentrate, listen harder, it is proper listening.

For those of you like me who haven’t done this sort of thing, it is like Masters level crit listening… not radio listening, or cd in the car listening. Proper hard careful listening.

Mouth-watering, ear-dancing, brain-tingling stuff!


It is official.

I am the stupidest, luckiest person in the entire West Midlands.

I was so over-stimulated by the whole musical experience, I left my bag containing: lyric note books, sketchbook, charge leads, camera and yes, MacBook(!!!) in the bloody loo on the way out.

It took me an hour and a half to do the 8 mile journey this morning to get there for when they opened at 9 to get it back, not even knowing if it was still there. I had also left it switched on. Password protection totally useless.

But yes. I have it back.

The relief is thick enough to spread on my toast.



Feeling very brave, I sat at the computer, and booked my flights.

A traumatic, stressful, infuriating experience that took about two hours.

But it is done.

I now have paid tickets that will take me from my beloved Birmingham all the way to Buffalo… via Paris… and New York…in both cities I will only see the airports… doesn’t count does it?

It is the furthest I have been on my own, and feels like the hugest adventure. I am exhilarated, terrified, I feel invincible and vulnerable all at once…

I feel it’s like a right of passage. After this, I will REALLY be an artist!


Before I get me there, I have to get the work there.

Why didn’t I draw a nice little thing on some crumpled up tracing paper? Or send that little pair of fabric shoes? Why didn’t I do something with feathers and bubblewrap?


Elena Thomas, bloody idiot, has to have the idea of stitching onto an army greatcoat.

A genuine WW2 army wool greatcoat, that weighs about 14kg without packaging.

This I have to finish working on, and get to America before the end of March.

So… if anyone is going over, and has room in their luggage for such an item, please do let me know. Otherwise it is going to cost me an arm and a leg to ship the sodding thing!

I note with interest this is my 300th post.

300 posts ago, I could not have dreamed or wished such a thing could happen…


Holding pen…

I find myself in limbo again… on the cusp… playing a waiting game…

I don’t know if I’ve got a studio yet… interview pending

I’m not sure if I can raise the rest of the money for NY… but need to book my tickets soon… making a leap of faith…

Got a new boss… like having a new job… very unsure still…

Wish I knew…

There’s another project I’m sort of clinging on to. I started it a while back, thinking it could be really good. But actually, now I’m not so sure. Do I stick with it or say goodbye and move on? It could be good for me, look good on my cv, or could be a millstone around my neck. I think I am very nearly at the point where I have to commit properly, and I’m wavering.

I don’t know if it feels like this because everything else is a bit wobbly, or if my instincts are correct. It could be one of those things that takes up all my time, stresses me, leaves me no energy for my own work…

I suspect 2014 will shape up nicely, I have loads of things in the pipeline that I’m really looking forward to… but this other thing is a bit of a cloud…

Do I ditch it now, or cling on a bit longer?

I wish I could have a glimpse into the future…


Isn’t really helpful in some ways, as it is rich in fantasy, separate from the real world, can lead to unrealistic expectations or desires. I stopped buying glossy life/home style magazines years ago as I realised they were stopping me enjoying what I already had. I know that I live a blessed and fortunate life compared to probably 95% of the people on this planet. I am probably already living someone else’s fantasy life. So I need to be thankful and get on with it! Even the bits I don’t like very much at the moment.

But Wishing…

In other ways is what keeps me pushing forward. If I think I can never have what I wish for, I would just grind to a halt. What would be the point? Also, a rich fantasy life cheers me up! It is the ultimate in internal personal imaginative creativity! The three things I am wishing for at the moment are not actually totally beyond the bounds of possibility… One of them is nearly happening, and the other two might need a bit of time or a bit of a nudge. There is one more, totally rooted in the fantasy, that I know will never happen, but it keeps me warm.

While it keeps me warm, I will plod on with the waiting game, the job, and the hunt for a studio. I will sit in limbo, on this comfy bit of cusp, until something pushes me off… one way or the other…


The real stitching is well underway now. I have plotted and planned the sweep of them, marked them with pins, adjusted a few, then stitched their stalks… one long simple stitch, to mark place and direction. Now the thinking has been done, my stitches from now on are repetitive and mindless… I can let my thoughts wander while I do them…definitely the best sort of stitching.

They are taking quite some time… the first eight stitches took me a couple of hours, as there was a bit of unpicking and colour changing. But now I’m speeding up.

I was asked “Why 200 seeds?”

Unable to think of anything meaningful very quickly, I told the truth:

“It seemed about the right number to create a sweep of them as if blown across the coat” and my air fare is about £600 so I thought £3 per seed would be a manageable amount for people to sponsor me for”

Not a particularly art-based answer, I know, but it was the truth. The decision for 200 seeds had been made in a fairly arbitrary fashion, based on a vague idea of the aesthetics, coupled with a need for the numbers to make sense to fund the flight.

Strangely, a fellow blogger here, Sharon Hall Shipp looked up “facts 200” on google and up popped this article on QI:


And there it is in black and white:

“Each dandelion flower head produces 200 seeds.”

Sharon called it a retro-fit. Thanks Sharon!

I love this idea that I can work at something seemingly randomly picking numbers or words or images, then something pops up out of nowhere, a mad coincidence… and adds another layer of something to the work.

Coincidence is a marvellous and curious thing.