Monday, 7 September 2009

Ah, September, my old adversary. So good of you to join me.

So I bet you got all excited when I did three blogs in about three days and you thought 'oh wow, he's going to become just like that Richard Herring, except with a less interesting life to try and make sound a bit depressing'.

No fear, I shall remain as feebly undiligent as ever. Anyway, it has been a funny old month, since last we talked, oh diary mine, and here are some reasons why.

Metro Life R.I.P.-ed

I suppose you could argue that my former Metro colleagues at least managed nine months more usefulness than me and Zof did; nonetheless, the complete elimination of all regional-specific arts coverage in Metro is pretty horrible. Thirty-odd people losing their jobs is never the nicest thing, especially when many are friends, especially when none of them saw it coming, especially when so many of them had laid down roots in regional cities - in many cases purchased houses - for jobs that are now gone, with no regional equivalents.

I pretty much have to assume that if I can make a semi go of it post Metro then they'll all do better/actively take work away from me; at least the comments on this here Guardian article would suggest it was not unappreciated (though I suspect quite a lot are from staff, actually...).

I think maybe in retrospect the most depressing thing of all, though, is that Metro Life arguably looks like a weirdly implausible endeavour. Metro as a whole may be a notch or two above the afternoon freesheets and the actual gutter press, but it's hardly a forward thinking, leftfield publication. Metro Life really was, if possibly only by necessity of not filling the allotted space with Jim Davidson's latest tour or whatever, and I suppose maintaining quality regional arts coverage never seemed obviously in line with anything the paper as a whole was trying to achieve. On those grounds I suppose you could argue that it was nice it ran and was financed for the best part of a decade, though, er, that's absolutely no consolation to anyone, obviously.

Anyway, it's a big shame for the obvious reasons. I suspect if I hadn't got taken in by the Birmingham edition shortly after I'd got back from Canada I'd have either ended up some sort of intolerable hipster or - even worse - blundered into a non-arts related area of the media and become some cunt in a suit. It became quite stultifying towards the end, and I do think my writing suffered as a result of being part of that machine, but it taught me a lot of stuff, I met a lot of wonderful people, and I guess now it's gone there's little question of the fact that it was A Good Thing rather than A Bad Thing. Sigh.

I went to Poland again

For the OFF Festival. You can read my review-cum-guilty trip at blatantly only being asked because I had a Polish name on DiS, if you can be arsed. It was fun; certainly I didn't balls anything up in a missing-the-entire-first-day-because-I-got-drunk style, and the atmosphere was great, people I met were lovely. Admittedly my chronic lameness at meaningful networking did mean that despite meeting the MD and editor of Filter magazine and pretty much everybody of any import at Sub Pop, I have nothing to show for it career-wise beyond some light liver damage (the Filter guys can drink), but that, my friends, is how I do. I stay warm under a bushel of integrity. Or at least ineptitude.


I did one drunken night end up pulling the lead singer of the above Polish indie band, though. That was a bit odd. I get the impression she's actually kind of famous-ish; certainly her escalating embarrassment every time she saw me afterwards would suggest something like that. Um, though I guess it's kind of par for course. I'm not really sure why I'm telling you this. I mean, obviously I'm boasting on some level, though as you don't know who the band are and don't really know that much about then, then we are in essence all just taking my word for it. Anyway, good festival, I would recommend it as part of a trip to the parts, so I would.

I went to Edinburgh for a month or thereabouts

An August without the Fringe had seemed like so awful an idea (again, thanks Metro for allowing me to chow down on the intoxicating teat of reviewing up there for three years) that I launched a limp, disorganised, but ultimately successful pestering campaign against the wonderful Caroline McGinn, theatre editor at Time Out, in which I basically said they could more or less have me for slave labour if only I could wield the Time Out name and go see a bunch of theatre. Obviously that was only half of the battle: it's not like they were going to put me up.

Enter Andy Field, who very kindly offered me floorspace in what has politely been referred to as The Flat From Hell, and sort of was, but the mere fact of its existence was unquestionably Very Awesome.

So essentially the combination in my taking a naive shoot for the moon in getting in touch with one of the country's more respected theatre critics, having a friend with a flat for artists that was horrible enough for not all the artists to bother staying, plus having the last financial vestiges of the luxury to not actually have a job to go to have all combined to mean that I have somehow ended up on the Time Out freelance theatre review team. This is probably the single proudest moment of my journalistic career, and has been received with a utter indifference by music friends, and a kind of gentle amusement by theatre ones. In all likelihood I'm going to continue dropping the phrase 'Time Out theatre critic' into conversation until either a) somebody shrieks at me "nobody fucking cares!", b) somebody shrieks at me "you lucked out you twat, what do you really know about theatre anyway?" or c) all my ex-girlfriends come round and tell me that I've done well and the only reason we split up was that I was too good in bed.

But it is a really great thing to have achieved, personally, having both that legitimacy in a world I've always admired hugely, no feeling entirely tied to the posturing and double bluffing and false importance and real importance and blah blah blah of music journalism, and more prosaically, being able to 'afford' to go to the theatre. Christ, this is turning into some sort of awful self-help blog. Wot a khunt.

Edinburgh was great, you can read my various thoughts on stuff here, if you get the chance I'd particularly recommend you see Uninvited Guests' 'Love Letters Straight From Your Heart', either of Belt Up's productions ('The Tartuffe' and 'The Trial'), Melanie Wilson's 'Iris Brunette' and Nic Green's 'Trilogy'.


As ever, the best thing was being in a tangential way involved with the Forest Fringe. It really is inspiration, and if Andy basically turns into a work stressed monster for its duration, the ends do justify the means, and to be honest I never really liked the fellow much.

The three week divide was unexpectedly enforced a little more by the changing casts in people; Mickey and a relaxed Andy for the first week, Powell for the second, Tams for the third, Arike right at the end... sort of gave everything a different tone and kind of mentally divided the festival into more manageable portions. Plenty of awesome constants and overlaps, mind - Deborah Pearson is teh awesomes, as are Tinned Fingers, H Plewis, and generally all who saile within the Forest. Oh, and I was only joking about Andy. Sort of. A bit. Don't hit me Andy.

Music that was good awaited my return

After grumping obnoxiously about music and music journalism, I got home to discover choice morsels by Atlas Sound, Fuck Buttons, HEALTH... AND MORE!!! had arrived at the old Lukowski homestead in my absence. So that was good. Stuff's good.


I'm going to try and get a job

Not, like, a proper one, but the festival season is done with, I'm bored of being skint, I sort of feel that in my various current freelance gigs I've racked up something to at least be proud-ish of - I think a nice part time job to take me out of the house and into fractional monthly profit could only be a good thing. Obviously I do say this as a friend of Ward, a man steadily coming up to his year unemployment anniversary, but I suspect I don't quite have his, uh, high standards.

Right. That was fucking long and self-indulgent, wasn't it? To be honest I only really wanted to say that thing about pulling that musician, the rest was just a disguise to make it look casual, like.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You don't have any thoughts for ages and then you have lots, good, I enjoyed it. Oh and That Girl, what a pull!!