NYE

Dec. 17th, 2007 09:53 pm
helenic: (leaning against wall)

I have a ticket to Planet Angel for NYE, but I'm thinking twice about going. The last few times I've been to Angel I didn't enjoy it that much, mostly because the mood of the crowd seems to have changed. The crowd is younger, drunker, pushier. I don't feel as comfortable there as I used to, and I'm anticipating that NYE will be even more touristy than usual.

Besides, my lovely [livejournal.com profile] romauld is working all evening behind the bar at the Pembury, and for far less money I could spend a few hours with him drinking good beer and playing games and listening to the live blues band they have booked. They have a late licence, so I can stay as long as I like before heading to a houseparty to get it ready for when the Angellers return. It's going to be cheaper, less hectic, less far away and less of a commitment than Angel. If I'm not having fun, going somewhere else will be much easier.

Would anyone else be up for seeing in the New Year at the Pembury? [livejournal.com profile] elise was talking about joining me, but lovely as her company is, I'm not sure how much of a party it'll be if she and the barman are the only people I know there. If I can collect a small group of people who aren't keen on the idea of midnight on a dancefloor, it'll make my decision much easier :)

helenic: (bordello)

The third lot of photos, by [livejournal.com profile] arachne, are now online! Feast your eyes.


The Planet Angel paintings! These were started at the live painting performance in the Funky Room, and finished last weekend in the early hours of Sunday morning, after a weekend of much art and no sleep. I likes them :)


Me ENTHUSIASTICALLY EXPLAINING our art style to a confused [livejournal.com profile] painted_bird


WHUT?! [livejournal.com profile] synthclarion and I look askance at the photographer.


PURE HOTNESS. I'm telling ya.


Dragonflower and Seadragon (plus random drunk people!)

More here :)

I will stop spamming you about exhibition stuff soon, promise.

helenic: (windowsill; cafe; people-watching)

I've just found these awesome photos of the main wall of K~nesis on facebook! I'm guessing these were taken at the end of the evening - poor light levels, but on the plus side, far fewer people in the way. These are by Kristen's best friend Steve - thanks Steve! <3


Top row: Floating, Polarity, The Dryad's Dream; bottom row: Dragonflower, Seadragon, Reflection, Seahorse.


Top row: The Dryad's Dream, Dancing; bottom row: Seadragon, Reflection, Seahorse, Winged, Bird of Paradise. (Heads on shelf: Cornelia, Paradis, Arctura, Mariposa).


Inner Space

We still don't have any clear photos of the paintings or heads in the sofa corner, but [livejournal.com profile] synthclarion has offered to be Official Photo Person on the day we take it all down, since we're going to need to get high-res images for prints anyway. Here's hoping the Foundry's clientele hasn't trashed it too much by then ...

Oh, and if any of you intrepid writerly types fancied writing an review of the exhibition, that would be amazing, and I will gladly buy you beer. Yes, even if you say you don't like it - as long as you have good reasons for not liking it :)

helenic: (Default)

The launch party was MADE OF AWESOME. Here are just a few of the things that made it one of the most exciting nights of my life EVER:

- My girl! Was beautiful! And everyone who met her for the first time commented on how her gorgeousness lived up to expectation! Which it totally does.

- My boy! Was pure hotness in a pinstriped suit, even if he was wearing a terrifyingly East End pork pie hat (FOR PIMPING). Anyway. He was so hot that people were interrupting their conversations to come over the room and tell him how hot he was. And I got to take him home afterwards. WIN.

- I went up to the bar and asked for a Smirnoff Ice, which I'd switched to drinking after my senses were overwhelmed by the farmiest perry in the world (I swear, it tasted like it came out of a cow. And no, not in the dairy sense). The barman looked at me blankly. "A what?"
"A Smirnoff Ice, please?" I gestured helpfully at my empty bottle.
"You want one of them?" His expression and tone of voice suggested that I might as well be asking for something that had come out of a cow.
"Um. Yes."
He exhaled, and I could sense him mentally re-ordering what he was about to say so that the stupid person would understand. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather have a vodka, lime and soda, which is cheaper, nicer, and has more alcohol in it?"
I blinked. "Yes! Thankyou! Yes, you're right, that's exactly what I want."
"Would you like a lot of lime juice?"
"Yes, I would, very much. Thankyou."
He gave me an amused glance over his shoulder, shook his head minutely, and charged me the princely sum of two pounds for my drink. I wholeheartedly approve of barstaff who know their trade and aren't afraid to tell you when you're being stupid. Taking down consumer brands from the inside, y0.

101 reasons why we throw the best parties )



- We sold stuff! Like, LOTS of stuff! An astonishing and unexpected amount of stuff! We sold:

The Enchanted Forest
Dragonflower (you see the bottom half of it in these photos; there's also a WIP shot from a few weeks ago here.)
Bird of Paradise (the orange and blue painting, which has a red and green hummingbird in the bottom left, although you can't see it that clearly. There's a pre-hummingbird WIP photo here.)
Polarity
Reflection (the red graffiti-style painting in the middle; also here)
Seahorse (the blue/purple painting on the left)
Seadragon (which spent the evening cunningly evading photocapture, but is the green and yellow painting lurking at the edges of these three pictures)
Solaris (the gold head in the foreground)
Arctura (a silver cybergoff head of which we have no photos yet, but which Kristen was very sad to see go)
Cruella (the black and white head with the tall feather)

... Which is 7 out of 11 paintings for sale (the two Planet Angel paintings aren't for sale) and three out of ten heads - almost half the whole exhibition given that the only other thing on show was the Inner Space sculpture. Overwhelmed is an understatement. I'm currently trying to convince myself that my friends aren't just doing this for the sole reason of being nice to me, but I guess that even if they are, that's still rather a fantastic compliment :) And the total sales so far runs to £1210 including a couple of discounts for friends who provided valuable assistance helping set up the exhibition. Which is really rather staggering, even minus expenses and divided between the two of us. SO! Everything sold will stay on show until Sunday 2nd, at which point we can start sorting out collection and suchlike. There are seven heads, four paintings and one life-size sculpture still going (the heads are a piffling £20 each), but to be perfectly honest I'll be quite happy if none of the other paintings sell, because I wants to keep them for my shiny new house. The rest of you can have prints or something. (Sorry, Kristen. Me and Squid are going to steal them.)

The two most popular paintings by far were Dragonflower and Bird of Paradise, and I'll almost certainly be doing a limited edition print run of those two paintings for all the people who missed their chance to own the originals. Denny reckons I should do some more bright, sharp, tropical flowers in oils along similar lines, but unless I'm working to a specific commission I'm bad at that kind of thing. I'd feel like I was ripping myself off. They'd feel derivative and second-rate, and if they didn't sell the whole experience would just be depressing. On the other hand, if anyone wants to specifically commission another tropical flower painting, that would be fine :) I'm also going to be doing a print run of Winged (the green/yellow painting on the right) and Floating since we've had at least one request for each so far, and we'll see how much demand there is for the others. And I'm very tempted to do some more paintings along the lines of Reflection simply because they're so much fun to do.

The exhibition is open until Sunday 2nd - if you're in or near London I'd be thrilled if you could find the time to go and see it one evening. The Foundry is an awesome venue - it's co-founded by Bill Drummond of the KLF, it has the most vibrant graffiti in Shoreditch and entire bank vaults downstairs filled with exciting art, and it serves locally-brewed organic beers which are highly recommended (although the perry comes with a health warning). We're going to be doing print runs of any painting people want prints of, so let me know if you want to put an order in. And if you can't make it, spread the word! :)

I spent most of the evening running around in an ecstatic daze, which increased to near-hysterical happiness when people started buying things. I drank lots of booze. I felt like I neglected everyone while trying to run around doing the host thing: I needed several clones, so one of them could spend the evening bouncing up and down and locking lips with my beautiful artistgirl, one could look after Denny, one could catch up with [livejournal.com profile] whatifoundthere, one could hug [livejournal.com profile] romauld all evening, and one could run around answering questions and taking payments for artworks and print orders and small-talking with all the lovely people who showed up and whom I wanted to spend time talking to. But there was only one of me, so instead I got drunk, squeed a lot, and ran around talking too fast and not knowing which way was up. Eeeeeeeeeeeeee!

MOAR PHOTOS! )

This is beginning to sound like an Oscar speech. )

helenic: (ARTISTE dahling)

We're on the Foundry website! It's real! And we're nearly there! Most of this week and weekend is being spent frantically finishing everything. Kristen and I are going to be bringing everything left at her flat in Maidenhead back with us on the train on Saturday, which will be tricky, but since neither of us drive it's our only option. After that, we just have to work out how to get it from the Catcave to the Foundry.

We'll be able to start work installing the exhibition from 2pm on Tuesday afternoon, and the work will all need to be completed by 6pm. We won't get any help from the venue, so the afternoon will be an entertaining one of painting the walls, drilling holes and hanging hooks, sticking up titles and prices, arranging sculptures and canvasses, and working out how to suspend things from the ceiling. It'll be hard work but lots of fun, hopefully.

The Foundry have offered to let us bring all our gear on Sunday evening, so that it can be left there until we arrive on Tuesday to set everything up (they're completely closed on Monday). This would mean that if any of our friends who drive are able to help us transport artworks from Archway to Old Street, then we could do so outside of working hours, which makes things slightly more flexible. However, we would need to turn up with all our stuff after the bar had closed on Sunday - between 10.30pm and midnight would be best. Kristen will need to have gone back to Maidenhead by then for work on Sunday, so if we are taking stuff over on Sunday it'll be just me.

It would be really really useful if any of our friends were able to help with setting the exhibition up, and love/beer/presents would be happily given in return if you wanted to be part of it :) Would anyone be available and willing to help with any of the following?

- driving paintings/sculptures from Archway Road (N19 3TT) to the Foundry (EC2A 3JL) on Sunday night, aiming to get there by 11pm - it's about a half hour drive. We wouldn't have more than a carload; if you had a car in which the back seats could be put down, that would be ideal as paintings could be laid flat.
- driving the rest of the artworks to the Foundry on Tuesday, aiming to get there by 2pm.
- if you don't drive, helping us carry paintings/sculptures down to the taxi on Sunday or Tuesday (one of the sculptures is heavy and fragile, and will take some care to move).
- lending us tools to hang paintings - an electric drill and hammer would be particularly useful
- coming along on Tuesday afternoon to help vandalise do creative DIY in our corner of the Foundry (Kristen and I will act as creative directors so you don't have to have any ideas unless you want to, but since we're quite short on time it would be fantastic to have an extra pair of hands to help with the physical work).
- distributing flyers around your London workplace, or pubs/coffeeshops etc this weekend

If there aren't any drivers available then we can make do with taxis, but if we could get even one lift there on either day then it would make it far, far easier and cheaper. Please let us know if you're around at either of these times and able to help out! Free drinks at the launch party and similar boons are available in exchange - as well as our deep gratitude and the chance to be involved in an art project which is extremely special for us, and hopefully fun and exciting for everyone else :)

And for everyone else, a reminder: the exhibition is set up on Tuesday 21st, but the launch party will be the evening of Wednesday 22nd, from 6pm (I'm not sure what time we'll be arriving). There will be interesting and entertaining music by [livejournal.com profile] kilinrax, locally brewed beer, and lots of art as well as ours - but of course, ours is going to be the most interesting. Do invite friends, family, co-workers, and rich people.

If you can't make the launch, the exhibition is open until Sunday 2nd September. I'll be there on the evenings of the 21st, the 22nd, the 23rd (maybe) and the 24th, so I doubt I'll be able to give any other guided tours. You are, of course, welcome to look round in your own time, or turn up on any of those nights to say hello :)

helenic: (darkside : lightside)

[livejournal.com profile] cuteevilpixie's and my exhibition is now on Facebook, which means it must be real. 21 confirmed guests so far! 27 might show up! I <3 Facebook. Thankyou so much to everyone who's planning to attend, and to [livejournal.com profile] dennyd for helping with the promotion. (This being the man who has just said to me, and I quote, "I wonder what the capacity of the venue is. Breaking that would be cool.")

Kilinrax is confirmed as being in charge of the music for the launch party on the 22nd (although due to licensing laws we can't advertise him as a DJ). This is EXCELLENT news, and he too deserves many thanks, for giving up his time to make our exhibition way cooler than it would have been otherwise. Also many drinks. He deserves to be bought lots of drinks.

I has been making FLYERS.


(click to view full size)

Now, apart from the wanky-but-sadly-necessary art blurb, I'm pretty happy with this. It's based on a combination of images including the Perfect Storm nebula, the ant nebula, and The Dryad's Dream. I love the whole burnt gold summer colour palette: sunlight through leaves; forest; flame; sunburst; clouds boiling into space.

Denny, on the other hand, thought it was too brown. "You should do a more blue-toned one for the geeks among us," he said. "Based on Polarity or something." At which point I started FLAILING, because firstly, dude, it's not BROWN. And secondly, this image PERFECTLY ENCAPSULATES the synthesis of immediate and infinite natural environment which is present in the art we've done so far, and we're going to be focussing much more on that juxtaposition of microscopic and macroscopic (molecules, nebulae, fractals, extreme close-ups of foliage and elements) as we develop this exhibition. There'll be a lot of galaxies and stars and universes, but also rainforests, the northern lights, the human form. It's going to be lush and organic and the colours will be intense. And I don't know how I could express that juxtaposition using just the Polarity image (without mentioning the fact that painting is still unfinished, and therefore I'm not keen on using it in a flyer) or just a space-based image. A fractal image would be perfect, but we don't have any fractal paintings yet, and it's a bit daft to have a flyer that doesn't include any of our art.

Anyway, I don't want people to look at our flyer and go "ICK BROWN" so I made some differently coloured versions.


(click to enlarge)

The last one is pretty, but it's kind of wintry, you know? And what we're doing is definitely summer art.

So, tell me what you think? And I'll doubtless be making more flyers as we produce more artworks. (Which will hopefully start happening TODAY, as Kristen is in town!) I mean, the whole nature of this exhibition is that the artwork is improvised and it's sort of essential that we can't entirely predict what we'll end up with. We have inspiration, but that provides a starting-point rather than a goal-post. So it's sort of inevitable that the promotional materials are going to evolve with the collection. I mean, if we could describe the entire exhibition in advance, it wouldn't be very experimental, would it?

By the way, I'm probably not going to be posting collaborative artwork online from now on. We have to give you some incentive to come to the exhibition, after all. I shall restrict myself to blurry cameraphone photos and tantalising prose descriptions. BWA HA HA.

helenic: (Default)

OKAY SO I was totally going to finish posting the art from Monday before I posted about this, but it's nearly midnight already, so. Skip to the end...

On Tuesday I took Kristen to the Foundry, because everyone needs to see it, especially artists. For those not in the know... )

When I saw [livejournal.com profile] cuteevilpixie's paintings, my first thought was that she should sign up to exhibit them at the Foundry. By the time we got there on Tuesday, we'd spent the weekend together, and the last 24 hours doing art. We turned up with our hands in each other's pockets and without really thinking about it, we were asking about whether their ban on joint exhibitions extended to collaboratiions. Turns out it doesn't: if every painting in the exhibition is by both of us, that's fine: we're effectively exhibiting as a single artist. Which wall did we want - the bar wall, the far wall or the library? The bar wall, we reckoned: it was the biggest, the most visible, and it included a whole snug area by the window with a broad windowsill and various ledges for putting sculptures on.

So Kristen and I are exhibiting at the Foundry from Tuesday August 21st to Sunday 2nd September. It'll be entirely collaborative work. Organic, kinetic, hippyish paintings; painted sculptures. We're going to hang coloured fabrics, totally fill the space. Tuesdays are the open mic piano night, so the launch party will be Wednesday 22nd August. We can organise our own DJ if we like (we're thinking of asking one of the Planet Angel resident DJs if they're interested, but if any of you would be up for it, let us know?). Oh! And also we need a photographer to take opening night photos, so let me know if you want the job? Not sure what the exhibition's going to be called yet - we're toying with the idea of K~nesis. I'll be posting a flyer when I've drawn one up.

Tuesday August 21st to Sunday 2nd September. The Foundry, EC2. EXHIBITION! Me and Kristen! Our paintings! Exhibited! In London! OH MY GOD I HAVE AN EXHIBITION. And it's all thanks to Kristen :) We have two and a half months to produce ALL THE ART IN THE WORLD and I totally could never, ever, have done this so soon if it wasn't for her and what she's done for my art and creativity.

YOU ALL HAVE TO COME AND SEE IT. Please. Bring your friends, your family, random people you meet in the street. Especially bring any friends you have who enjoy hippyish paintings and might have, say, about £300 to spend on a big beautiful piece of art this summer.

I has a Kristen, and an exhibition: life doesn't get better than this. :)

helenic: (Mad Hatter - sultry redhaired fingerbiti)

Announcement #1. My friend [livejournal.com profile] flannelcat is intending to walk on hot coals for charity, which is pretty fucking awesome, and he would very much appreciate your support.

Announcement #2. I am seriously considering being a member of the Julola Militia for a day in the Cotswolds, on September 24th; would any of you be interested in joining me?

"Actors are required for the Personal Security in Emergencies course at the Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, which is in the picturesque Cotswold Hills on the edge of Shakespeare country. The simulation setting is the fictional coutry of Julola (which is rather west African, bears an uncanny resemblance to 90's Liberia and Sierra Leone). You will be playing mainly Militia for informal & formal checkpoints. Some actors may also be requested to play villagers, refugees or journalists.

We ideally need you to arrive the night before for briefings and to get to know the other actors. If you are keen but can't get there the night before this still may be of interest - so let me know anyway. For both courses preparation will start the next morning from approx 8am. For both the simulation will finish by 5pm, and then you can choose whether to stay for food and pub or bugger off for your usual saturday night entertainment. We provide accomodation for the friday night, food if you arrive before 6.15pm, and all meals on Saturday. We will also pay travel expenses from within the UK."

The event is run by the charity RedR. There is another simulation taking place on Saturday 1st October, for which actors are also required if you're interested, but as this is the date of [livejournal.com profile] bacchae and [livejournal.com profile] areia's leaving-the-country party I won't be able to make it.

This weekend I am going to Synthetic Culture and [livejournal.com profile] kmazzy's birthday party, BOTH OF WHICH ARE PIRATE THEMED. I anticipate a total sensory overload of men in leather trousers. Mmmmm - I mean, ARRRRR.

helenic: (innocent kitten eyes)

Dear all,

You are hereby cordially invited to the flat-warming of the Satyr Suite, also dubbed the Flat of Love and the Young Ladies' Seminary for the Taking In of Eccentric Waifs and Strays by various of its inhabitants. These are [livejournal.com profile] elise, [livejournal.com profile] libellum and [livejournal.com profile] strongtrousers, otherwise known as the Satyr (or, on occasion, Sapphic) Suities.

The flat-warming will take place on the evening and night of Saturday 20th August, from 7pm onwards. Party food (such as pizza, chips and dips, salads, cheese) will be provided. Please do bring a bottle or several, and as many friends as you can persuade to join you provided that they're fabulous.

The theme and dress code, in accordance with one of the flat's many names, is "Eccentric Waifs and Strays". This may manifest itself in various ways, and you are highly encouraged to dress in whichever manner you think best fits it. Suggested dress-codes include: Victorian/Edwardian; Street Urchin; Consumptive Heroine (it's actually the date of Emily Bronte's birth); Music Hall Trash; Lady (or, indeed, Gentleman) of Negotiable Affection; Dickens; Jack the Ripper; Ankh-Morpork; Burlesque; generic drag or other period costume.

The address can be found here or by commenting with your email address so I can send it to you.

RSVP )

helenic: (innocent kitten eyes)

At my birthday picnic we¹ really did consume an immense amount of food and drink. The shining moments of culinary delight, however, were:

1. The Eternal Pimms. [livejournal.com profile] corchen had the brilliant idea of buying one of those enormous tupperware cereal canisters with the lift up pour-lids, which turned out to hold about three litres of liquid. We put ice and chopped strawberries and cucumber into it, and every time it was emptied we left the fruit in the bottom and just refilled it with more liquid. Over the course of the afternoon it had added to it: Pimms and ginger ale, white wine, gin and tonic, limes, Pimms and lemonade and gin, more wine. The fruit became more and more interesting with each incarnation.

2. SALAAAADS. FOUR yummy delicious summery salads. Potato salad with new potatoes, full-fat mayonnaise, chopped fresh chives, sea salt and black pepper! Greek salad with quartered cherry tomatoes and finely sliced feta and quartered olives and mixed leaves and basil and raw garlic and a tiny bit of garlicy vinagrette! Green salad with big soft shredded lettuce and mixed leaves and avocado and spring onions and lemon zest and sliced cucumber and lemony vinagrette! Pasta salad with fusilli and tuna steak and chopped anchovies and capers and chopped cucumber and olive oil and black pepper and full-fat mayonnaise! They were faaaabulous. Although in retrospect, the pasta salad was a little too salty and should have had fewer capers, and the green salad could have got away with a lot more avocado. The potato salad was perfect. I love potato salad so much.

This summer, in the beautiful huge tiled kitchen of our luxurious penthouse uberflat, I intend to continue to make many wonderful salads. Tell me your favourite salad recipes!

[1] "We" being [livejournal.com profile] libellum, [livejournal.com profile] corchen, [livejournal.com profile] lovelyoliver, [livejournal.com profile] strongtrousers, [livejournal.com profile] cantabulous, [livejournal.com profile] elise, [livejournal.com profile] the_lady_lily, [livejournal.com profile] medieval_bunny, [livejournal.com profile] feanelwa, [livejournal.com profile] rathenar, [livejournal.com profile] _nicolai_, [livejournal.com profile] surje, [livejournal.com profile] casilda, [livejournal.com profile] deborah_c, [livejournal.com profile] davefish, [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist, [livejournal.com profile] _proserpina_, [livejournal.com profile] deliberateblank, [livejournal.com profile] fiona_kitty, [livejournal.com profile] robinbloke, [livejournal.com profile] smcv. Anyone I've forgotten?

helenic: (evil looks good in leather)

On Saturday we had the Buffy readthrough organised and hosted by [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf, which was enormous fun. Pure, unadulterated self-indulgence, but that didn't matter because we weren't inflicting it on any audience, we were just all indulging together. We read Prophesy Girl, Becoming I and 2, The Zeppo, some excerpts from Spiral and The Weight of the World, The Gift, excerpts from Bargaining 1 and 2, and Once More With Feeling. The best bits included:

- the many varied portrayals of Buffy, from the taking-herself-too-seriously the-end-of-the-world-is-nigh (Elly) to snappish, somewhat confused, frustrated-with-the-world (Catriona), to stubborn, compassionate, stupid self-sacrifice (Yves). And my Valley Girl, which was fun (although admittedly a somewhat dislocated, bleak Valley Girl in OMWF. With silly songs). It really brought out the development - and inconsistency - of the character throughout the series, and helped to vary the mood and pace considerably.
- Eddy, Sam's dad, who cooked a fantastic curry and played a very powerful Whistler and General Gregor.
- [livejournal.com profile] weaselspoon's Xander in The Zeppo. "Right. Bombs. Wow, I can't believe I had sex. No! No. Must think about the bombs!" Particularly the scene with Faith ([livejournal.com profile] elise). Mmm.
- the narration for The Zeppo (by [livejournal.com profile] romauld and [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf), which really came together; it was fast, funny, original, and very suited to the mood. We did end up concentrating quite a lot on the angsty season-finale side of Buffy, and it was good to get the humour in there, because Joss' one-liners are one of my favourite things about the series.
- [livejournal.com profile] the_alchemist as Glory, who managed without having ever watched Season 5 to be both scarier and better looking than Clare Kramer.
- [livejournal.com profile] leonato as Sweet in OMWF. In fact the whole of OMWF, which was just so much fun. Particularly indebted to [livejournal.com profile] mirabehn's bass playing, which pretty much kept the whole thing together.

Oh and I got to play Vamp Willow. I can't believe they let me! I loved every second of it. And [livejournal.com profile] dextress was fantastic as Willow in that episode. Fun. Funfunfun. Here are some photos: )



Afterwards there was an excellent party, involving singing the opening speech of Richard III to the tune of the can-can, complete with dance, performing the Richard and Anne scene in Richard III in the style of the Clangers, much telling of bad jokes, a foot massage "orgy" which somehow developed into a foot-led rendition of the Timewarp, and a rather excellent game of non-word Scrabble. )

helenic: (internal dialectic)

Surrealness! I just answered the door to a canvasser from our local MP. An attractive, young, blonde canvasser with good shoes. [livejournal.com profile] punkalou, in fact, whom I haven't seen for almost two years. Cue much squeaking of "ohmygod!" and bemused giggling. L, maybe we should meet up sometime and drink wiiiiiine?

I had an excellent weekend. On Friday evening [livejournal.com profile] elise, [livejournal.com profile] smhwpf, [livejournal.com profile] shreena and I saw Billy Bragg play at the Colston Hall in Bristol. We got there during the support band, whose name I didn't catch; they were a blues/electronica group with some fantastic rhythms and basslines and an excellent (and cute) tenor saxophonist, but the singer's voice really didn't blend with the rest of the sound, and their songs didn't seem to be about anything. Elise and I slipped out after a couple of songs and went to the bar. When we returned, Billy still wasn't on; we sat through an Indian guy speaking uninspiringly about Make Poverty History until, without any warning, Mark Steel came on stage. I've never heard his standup before and it was wonderful. Exactly what comedy should be. Hard-hitting, passionate, angry, absolutely fucking hilarious. Mainly he ranted about politics and religion, particularly New Labour and "all the bollocks about the Pope", and I was crying with laughter at the same time as applauding his sarcastically-expressed outrage. The evening would have been worth it just for that, but then Martyn Joseph and Steve Knightley were announced, also completely unexpectedly, which elicited a certain amount of squeaking from me. Apparently they've been touring together for the past three weeks. They mainly took it in turns to play their own songs while the other accompanied; I'd never heard MJ before, and he has an amazing voice. In the interval I bought the album they've recorded together. It was a shame not to see Phil Beer, but since I hadn't expected to see these guys at all I was more than happy.

Eventually Mr. Bragg came on at about 10pm, two and a half hours into the evening. His set only lasted 45 minutes but he was everything I knew he'd be. Forthright, rude, sincere, funny, heartbreaking. He played NPWA, Upfield, John Barleycorn, England Half English, I Keep Faith, All You Fascists, Power In A Union, World Turned Upside Down (which I was particularly happy about), Great Leap Forwards and A New England. For the encore he got Steve Knightley, Martyn Joseph, Mark Steel (who looked a bit uncertain about it all) and the blues singer onstage and did a group version of Redemption Song. Fucking amazing.

Two pieces of good news with which to start the week, both of which have made my insides twist with happiness and disbelief: Pakistan and India are at peace, and (is it wrong that I find this more exciting?) the Oxyrhynchus Papyri have begun to be decoded, making a potential addition of 20% to the current body of extant Greek and Roman literature. "The previously unknown texts, read for the first time last week, include parts of a long-lost tragedy - the Epigonoi ("Progeny") by the 5th-century BC Greek playwright Sophocles; part of a lost novel by the 2nd-century Greek writer Lucian; unknown material by Euripides; mythological poetry by the 1st-century BC Greek poet Parthenios; work by the 7th-century BC poet Hesiod; and an epic poem by Archilochos, a 7th-century successor of Homer, describing events leading up to the Trojan War." Well, that puts my dissertation into perspective.

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