28 May, 2008
Have entered the dead zone where you only work at night. It happened because I made the fatal error of spending a couple of days at home, discovered I liked it, and have now trapped myself into spending the daylight hours with wife and squiddlies (it's half-term from school week) leaving only the long dark night to... do... my... thing.
Fuck it, who cares? I'm into the home straight, always a short dark tunnel where the rules get torn up and it's every luncatic for his- or her-self. Will the book benefit? Ask me again later...
Meanwhile, was fliicking through Youtube looking at old Zep clips - hello BP and the Starship, circa '73, JPJ with what looks like a bunch of flowers up his sleeve, Robert reading a book (upside down) - and found one of me talking to Mike Tramp, then of White Lion, and Phil Soussan, then of Ozzy's band, while standing on Mullholland Drive dressed as Rob Halford - except I've got REALLY LONG HAIR. And I'm skinny. And talk with a fake American accent (sort of). Showed it to wife and she nearly shit she laughed so much. "You look so gay!" she screamed.
Ah, posterity, who knew you'd turn out to such a whore...
27 May, 2008
Actually got a lot of work done yesterday while I was at home. A lot of work plus I cooked breakfast (ham, eggs) and dinner (spag bol) for everybody and played with the kids and talked to wife (well, listened) and generally crept around like a guy in a white hat. Of course, all that meant I didn't get out the door once all day and ended up collapsing in the so-called marital bed at about 1.30a.m. but so what? A good day, no matter how hard I try and be picky about it. Sort of made me optimistic about being able to finish the book when I return full-time at the end of next week. Remind me of that when I start climbing the walls again.
As for today, it was back to my padded cell under the trees. Looking around after being away a couple of days I realise just how very, very lucky I was to find it and afford it (just about, fingers crossed and keep whistling). No, I wouldn't want to live here longer than about two days. But in terms of getting some work done it's been a god send. In fact, I realise suddenly, I'm gonna miss it when I go. Not so much the place, just the time, the event, the adventure. Even if most of it was just sitting in the utility room, all my books and recordings and CDs and videos and crap on the washing machine, surrounded by boxes of mags, newspapers, internet print-outs, yet more (hundreds) books and what-the-fucks, then sleeping through about three or four bad nightmares for most of the winter nights, waking up screaming one time, crying another, not sleeping at all for a large part of it.
Man, what a scene. What a time. Like I say, I feel very lucky. And very fucked. All at once. Good as it gets in this game, trust me. Or not, as the case may be...
26 May, 2008
Finished the latest chapter of the Zep book on Saturday night and decided to make a late orbital re-entry to the homestead. Why not, it's the Bank Holiday and everybody else is kicking back, right, so...
Actually, the plan was only to spend Sunday with the family but then Monday rolled around and I decided what the hell and here I am - still - working from home for the first time since January. It really brings it home to me why I rented the cottage in the first place. Three kids aged seven and under, one of them a boy intent on detroying the world... it's not exactly the British Library in terms of noise-levels. And it's pouring with rain today so no chance of wife taking them outdoors.
Still, it's good to be back. The old Vanilla Prison is becoming increasingly claustrophobic. It's only a small bungalow anyway so it's not like there's much room in the cage to pace up and down. Two weeks from now I'll be home full-time anyway, so maybe I should look on this like one of those little visits outside they give long-term prisoners to help them get used to the big bad world again and its shocking freedoms. Or in my case, the sound of world war three breaking out at 6.00a.m. every day.
22 May, 2008
Decided the not-exercising thing was becoming quickly counter-productive - sitting in a chair at a desk 24/7, a recipe for living death - so went swimming yesterday and came home and jumped on the treadmill today. Feel much better, as in all I want to do now is sleep. But then I have been 'out' all evening. Don't ask. Family stuff. There's just no getting away from it sometimes. No matter how hard you try.
Spoke to Dr. Peter Makowski on the phone earlier though. Just back from LA with Ross Halfin. Told me some funny stories about A Famous Rock Band you won't be reading in Classic Rock any time soon. I'd love to say more but really it's down to the Doc. I've been trying to get him to write a book full of such stories for about 10 years now but he never gets round to it. Damn shame. Cos if he ever did it would be like the Da Vinci Code of rock journalism.
Ross should do one, too. Though it might be said he's doing it already in very small installments via his blog - still one of the best reads on the net, apart from the lies about me and all his other 'best' friends of course.
Anyway, enough talk about writing books. It's bringing on my sweats. Gonna try for an Early Night for once and see if it leads to an Early Morning and some Good Work. Let's face it, I'll try anything at this point...
20 May, 2008
Spent the morning with wife and two smallest squids at the Wall Family wing of the JR hospital in Oxford. Youngest daughter is having more tests and may need an operation. We hope not obviously but at least we feel like we're getting something done at last. (This has been ongoing for years.)
Came home via MacDonalds. Wife and I hate MacDonalds but the kids love it as a good-girl (boy)treat. Had one of their chicken McDuff sarnies. Yeeuugghhh. Like eating your own cock only not as much fun (probably).
Now getting ready to run back to the Vanilla Prison to continue the Great Work. Stopping off at the supermarket first to buy some dinner for tonight. Oh all right, red wine. I will have earned it by then. We all will.
19 May, 2008
Only two weeks to go in the cottage and everything bar the dreaded work has gone out the window as I try and make the most of what little time I've got left there. I'm not even exercising anymore, just getting down to work as soon as possible. I don't even go out to buy a newspaper or a bottle of red wine. I even found myself ignoring my natural mid-afternoon impulse today to fall face-first down on the bed and zed out till I felt better.
Two more weeks of this and I'll be well and truly knackered. Still, I am getting a lot of stuff done, the only thing sustaining me the fantasy of actually finishing the bastard thing. When I'm not working I sit there imagining that all I need to do is throw myself at the laptop for a few more days and the whole thing will be done.
I told wife on the phone last night, "A chapter a day! That's what I'm aiming for!"
She sounded worried. "Are you sure?" she said. "The last time you tried that [with the John Peel book] you ended up in hospital."
"Piece of piss!" I cried.
She said she'd call ahead and book me a bed at the JR.
She knows it's all talk, though. My chapter-a-day days are well and truly over. Chapter-a-week and I need an oxygen mask and a stretcher to get me up again the next morning. Still, you've got to tell yourself something, haven't you? Like when I was working as a dishwasher in a burger joint all those years ago. I used to pretend it was one great big fat giant git eating all the food out there, not hundreds and hundreds (and hundreds) of faceless bastards sent from hell specifically to fuck me. Happy days...
18 May, 2008
Eldest daughter came for a sleepover at the cottage last night. Mum and siblings were going to a special High School Musical night at school but eldest has SATS coming up next week so used the opportunity to come to the cottage and revise while the old man sat in the other room working on his own exams.
That lasted about half an hour. Then I made dinner - steak and chips (Irish caviar) - and we settled down to eat it at the coffee table while watching Dr Who on TV. My idea of Saturday night heaven these days. Actually, even in the far off days when I still went out on a Saturday night my secret idea of heaven was staying at home in front of the telly, or radio, or whatever. I just always liked the idea of staying in more than going out.
Daughter is one cool kitten though. Straight after Dr Who she went back to her SATS practise papers. The school has her down officially as a 'gifted child'. It doesn't mean she will always be but for now she's pretty amazing, good at everything. "I really like reading and writing," she said at one point. I sat there thinking, well, you know, me too. Then half an hour later: "I really like Maths." Jesus, I thought, where did that come from? Not me or her mother, that's for sure. Nor her two-pigs-plus-a-goat-equals-a-slap-on-the-arse grandparents. Kid's just bright as a shiny new star in the ever-darkening sky.
I told wife about it this morning when I took her home. "I hope she doesn't forget all this one day and grow up like me," I said. "Don't worry," said wife, "She won't." Er, good...
15 May, 2008
Spent the last two days diligently (brain-achingly) going through all my remaining material on the Zep book, sifting through what's left to find out what I've still got and try and figure out what goes where and when (which chapter etc) - and how many chapters that actually leaves me to write. About four, by the looks of it, followed by intro, epilogue and some other odds and sods. This is good on the one hand because it puts the whole thing much more within reach, kind of like drawing the finishing line for me. This is also not good because it makes me realise just HOW MUCH there is still to do.
Nevertheless, can't help feeling strangely excited. Not because it's a work of genius (I mean obviously, but...), more like that feeling mountaineers get the closer to the summit they climb, inch by inch. Dizzy with joy and sick with fear they might fall off at any minute. Like I've got one hand on the flag and the other on my rapidly shrinking testicles. A familiar feeling to any man on the verge of a breakthrough / breakdown / same damn thing...
13 May, 2008
My wife came round the cottage yesterday to take some snaps of me on her digital camera for the jacket of the Zep book as the publishers are strangely unconvinced by the nine-year-old shot of me that you can see elsewhere on this site (come on, you didn't really believe that 2006 caption, didja?). She also rather cleverly brought some pairs of cheap and trashy sunglasses from Woolies that cost about £3 each. The sort of thing that looks horrible in real life but somehow stands out on TV or in pictures.
After some awful twatting around trying to make me look good (not even Ross Halfin could manage that at this late stage of the game) she threw in the towel and went for the gay gangster look instead - that is, leather jacket, no shirt, dark invisible man glasses. Voila! It worked. I now look like something out of a Fassbinder (Fassbender?) movie. Just the job. If I can work out how (don't hold your breath) I will also put one or two up here - or my likely on my MySpace page. A nice treat for all you sexy ladies (and boys) out there...
11 May, 2008
Wife finally figured out why the neighbours have been acting so weird lately - they think we've split up! Cos I've obviously moved out, you know, been gone for months now in fact. God knows why they think I keep returning a couple of times every week - probably because of the kids. Either way, it's an interesting lesson in human nature. When we first moved in a couple of years ago they were all over us, offering to babysit (like we'd let 'em, we don't even trust our own families to do that), water the plants when we were away, take in the mail if we weren't around and god knows what else. Then the first sign of trouble - or so they think - and they start avoiding eye contact, terrified I suppose that wife might break down and start sobbing for their help, or maybe that I will run amok in the streets. (Actually, I still might do that...)
Anyway, they're all in for a big treat soon as I'll be back in another few weeks. What will they think then? That we've reconciled? That wife has given me One More Chance? That the Bastard Is Back? The book - did I mention I was writing a book? - isn't finished yet (hahahaha, yeah) but it is - whisper it - nearly finished. And besides, the lease on the vanilla prison is about to run out, so home it will be very soon. I'm looking forward to it. Not having to finish the last couple of chapters at home (I foresee wife spending increasing amounts of time running errands AWAY FROM THE HOUSE and several late nights for me when the kids are asleep AT LAST. But at least I'm on the home stretch now).
Not I'm getting too excited. Having been around this block so many times half the streets are named after me, I know that as soon as one damn thing gets settled another gets right up and into your arse. And that's if you're lucky. But still, you know what they say, summer's coming...
09 May, 2008
Then sometimes it really is just about the music.
In the past, for me, that might mean anything from Miles Davis to Bob Dylan to Mozart to Thin Lizzy and Zep...
Never liked punk, though that was what I got my start writing about. Loved the Sex Pistols obviously, but they would have been good any era. The Clash I couldn't and still can't stand. The epitome of every gobshite no-hit garage wankers I met and interviewed between 1977-79, mainly middle class tossers going out of their way to sound like hoody chav cunts, I've always been turned off by ignorance.
Never cared too much for heavy metal either, though applauded the outsider-ness of it through 83 to 91, especially the Irons, the Lepps, Tallica , Guns etcetera. Rarely if ever played it when I wasn't writing about it though.
Then in the dim and distant, the dawn of my teens, there was Bowie (apart from Low, never play it now), Rod and the Faces, T.Rex, and the blonde bird with the St. Christopher dangling from her waist to the V of her hotpants in Middle Of The Road (chripy chirpy... oh god...).
Right now it might mean Julie Fowlis, Gimmer Nicholson, June Tabor, Bach, Ravi Shankar, (early) Joni Mitchell, CS&N, that weird dog-leg in the road where Calif-or-nia meets Ca-le-do-nia, oh yay...
Never having been given the chance to really write about the stuff I actually love, maybe I was lucky. You rarely stay in love with what you have to work with, year in, year out. Like, I loved jazz before I became a full-time rock writer, forgot about it during those 'crazy' years, then immediately found myself listening to it again when it was suddenly all over.
Those that do work with the stuff they love I sort of envy, for obvious reasons, and sort of despise because it's all those poor cunts know, so steeped in their own shit they don't even realise there are whole other nearly always better worlds out there.
Yeah, me, the lucky one. Which is why I get phone calls like the one today from the very nice-sounding lady from Rock Radio in Manchester asking me if I'd go on their breakfast show on Monday to talk about the new Iron Maiden album. Blimey, do they have a new album out?
05 May, 2008
And then there's the decidedly non-rock'n'roll stuff...
Being so heavily in debt you can't afford a honeymoon for your new wife.
Being so bored and frustrated with your job you pick fights with strangers on the train. Every day.
Getting so old you groan out loud everytime you have to stoop to tie your shoe.
Getting so old actually you don't fancy a shag, no.
Working too hard to look after your young family while feeling like an abject failure.
Sitting there writing something with one hand because your chin is resting on the other hand, your eyes barely open, mind completely blank, beyond bored, then listening to someone tell you how good it is.
Realising your time is nearly up and shrugging, "And?"
Standing there in the dark, watching your children sleep, the tears rolling down your face.
Remembering your mother, dead at 48, younger than you are now.
Seeing a picture of someone even younger, some old crone in the paper, looking older than you'd want to at 60, and thinking, shit...
Not that all of these things have happened to me lately.
Just some of them.
Now and again.
01 May, 2008
Er, you wanted some rock'n'roll stories...
I once vomited all over one of Wishbone Ash. Well, I was young. And drunk. And stoned.
I once got off with a very attractive young air hostess mid-flight on my way to Los Angeles. Friends, they said it couldn't be done. It could.
Axl and Slash once gave me a gold record for the GN'R Lies album. It still hangs on the wall opposite me.
Jimmy Page once gave me a framed cartoon from the LA Times taking the micky out of the release of the In Through The Outdoor album. He wrote on the back, 'From one monster of rock to another...'
I once did a catherine wheel with Phil Lynott. You know, where you put a BIG long spiral of coke on a mirror and you start at one end and he starts at the other and you don't stop until your heads bump in the middle. Fun, yeah...
I once woke up after sleeping for 48 hours straight and answered the phone to Bryan Adams, calling for his phone interview, and who I told off for ringing me a day early. He hadn't, I had just somehow skipped a day.
I once slept with a Playboy model. In fact, I did a few times. But she had a boyfriend and you know...
I once used to think this stuff mattered.