Thursday, January 31, 2008

L** J*****

"Blogging, What is this blogging? I'm far too busy to blog."

I'm not entirely sure if that's a quote from me or James (I'm not sure if James' comment would've been as polite). Time is of the essence with two weeks until print deadline and the first Community Retailer.

What this means is that I'm blogging at one in the morning instead of sleeping, eating absolute rubbish instead of cooking and worrying far too much about the affairs of a single gentleman. I will interview you Mr J*****, and I will find out what's been going on. You have been warned

Right, there should be at least some semblance of a sleep before waking up once more. Mrs Shava... if only I didn't have to dream of you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Youthmovies @ Barden's Budoir 26/01/08

Twenty or so surprisingly well-dressed people are stood in the freezing cold next to a notice board that is the only indication that they are near a gig venue. Some have moustaches, most are unnervingly tall and there is not a hint of fluorescent paint anywhere. This is like no other gig in the East End of London I’ve ever been to and we’re early.

This is Youthmovies’ first gig since last November. They are just about to get involved in the NME-led math rock scene in a very big way. Foals, the current plaything of the magazine, were formed when the singer of Youthmovies left the Edmund Fitzgerald, to concentrate on the band I have come to see this evening.

I sit by where t-shirts are on sale and realise that it is the band themselves who are selling them. This band have been on the radar for about four years, they are signed to a major label and have a hotly tipped album due out in a matter of weeks. Fame, it seems, doesn’t occur to them.

“It’s just so nice to be playing in front of people” the singer awkwardly smiles, referring to their record company funded jaunts around the country to widen their appeal. Here they are in their element, with people who have come to see an off-beat, confusingly brilliant renditions of songs with such titles as ‘When We Won’t Have to Make the Freezing Scene no More’ and ‘Soandso and Soandso’.

They make no apology for treading the line between genius and pretension with each crescendo – with each seven minute song and with each improbable change of time-signature. This is because they still write songs, and good songs at that. Some might even call them pop records but none of those people were in the crowd this evening, or even know who Youthmovies are at the moment.

They are the sort of band who only released 1,000 copies of their first E.P. and refused to re-release it in the same format, even after it sold out. They are the sort of band who are supported by a seven piece string orchestra who only played one song in their twenty minute set. They are the sort of band who take the crowd with them, and never ever let go.

The crowd of around 250 roared their approval to single The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor, due out next month, described as not so much a single but just as their shortest and therefore the most manageable according to the record company. This band is musically astounding. Sometimes the lyrics get lost in a flash of intricate guitar work that is impossible to dance to but if you actually listen, there is a vulnerability there. This despite the throwing around of distortion pedals and the banging of synths.

Everything about the evening was magical. From the silver wallpaper to concertos, This was like no other gig I’ve ever been to and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The single: The Naughtiest Girl is a Monitor is released on 3 March
The album: Good Nature is released on 17 March

Monday, January 21, 2008

The kids aren't alright

I have never quite felt as old as I did on Saturday night old, stood next to people half my height and a third of my age waiting for the band to start. What was even worse was the first band were of a similar generation. I didn't know people so young could grow afros.

You know something is not quite right when you're not quite sure whether you should be stood with the parents at the back or with the kids at the front. It's fine, I'm a journalist. I quite legitimately might have been working, watching 13 year olds watched by 13 year olds. 'The Lo-Fi Culture Scene' want to look like the Strokes, want to sound like the Strokes and want to be arrogant little gets. They succeed.

The only chance I had of seeing a gig at a club night before I was 18 was pretending to be older and hiding a young face with ridiculous hair, rather than just popping along at the age of 10 with my parents to swagger around, lemonade in hand pretending I'm it. Getting wolf-whistled by a group of girls just isn't the same when they look like they've just come out of the year 9 school disco, macarena, stolen small bottles of vodka and all.

The world has gone absolutely mad.

Lo-Fi Culture Scene


Right... we've fixed the blog. I've put up a new list on the board (next to a rather attractive picture of Jacqui Smith et al) and we're finally away. Just in time for the first day of online journalism.

What we learned today is that people don't read what you write. dsf h sdkfh shdkj f shdfkj skjdf hksf skjf kjsd fhksf ksdjhf kjs fkj skjdhfk ksdjf ksjhf kjs kjfhskj h. If you were scanning, then tune back in around here... and don't forget to hyperlink.

I have a feeling that the rather ubiquitous work load of our 'vocation' is acrimoniously apprehending our private vacation. Oh if I could see Roberta and her red pen now! (BIG WORDS!!!). To the weekend and a numberless, double figured amount of rewrites. Cheers (holding up fake Red Bull and coffee).

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Friday night, Saturday morning

Apple isn't answering the phone. Not their phones, or aren't answering, but the phone. This is irritating. Less irritating now that I managed twelve hours' sleep last night, but irritating nonetheless. (Not as irritating as the length of time that grammar takes to 'get').

Blogging, as important as it may be, takes a back seat when you realise that you are submitting nine news stories on Tuesday at 8.30am. All work and no play makes me a qualified journalist (hopefully).

Walking round the 'BETT' IT in education conference just made me understand how hard it is to find a story that isn't handed out by PR idiots. Listening for half an hour about how the future of IT within primary school eduction should revolve around what amounted to a flash animated postcard (the company shall remain nameless) just made my head hurt. It's not quite questioning Hain about his 'illicit' financial affairs but I suppose it's a start. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Minor Celebrities make news (and play cards).

No-one is safe from pop-journalism. Despite believing, hand on heart, that some people don't follow the theory of the lowest common demoninator when it comes to target audiences so often brandished by 'Sun' critics and those of the supposed middle-class intelligentsia, it turns out that no-one can quite resist staring at a pair of fat thighs and dragging their self-esteem up from the gutter.

Sex sells and that is what we must learn. The words 'Madeleine' and 'McCann' in the same sentence are gold dust. Off-diary stories are what makes you a good journalist and you can never go wrong with short sentences. As long as I don't use long words, the Sun readers should be okay. Never in a published word environment have I heard the words 'it's not dumb enough' as a reason for none-publication. Never that is until I started meeting people who had worked for the paper in question.

Minor celebrities and well known personalities are easily related to sex. They last for a lot less time than you might expect them too and often smell bad. Today I have read about Phil Jupitus handing out awards in a youth magazine and had the daily information of Britney Spears' exact movements from the Daily Star. This is news solely because these people are 'famous'.

Also today, quite ironically, I find myself sat playing cards with Norman Pace (of Hale and Pace). I didn't get to say 'who are you, a comedian?' because the opportunity never arose. This is news because he was sat across from the doctor who helps present 'This Morning' on ITV. While the joke about the doctor, the comedian and the journalist is yet to be written, I'm sure a tabloid headline writer is just gagging for the opportunity to arise.

Hale and Pace
The Sun

Monday, January 7, 2008

One down, sixty to go

It is strange to look at the first day of a course and realise there are only eight weeks and four days left of it to complete. I spent three years working out the ‘exact ramifications of latent imagery within poetry’ and very little else during university. The idea, therefore, that shorthand, news, features, DTP, media law and goodness knows what else might be conquered in little over two months makes the heart sink, then beat a little faster than it should.

Round the table at the PMA centre, some were shivering due to the caffeine intake, others just from the cold and some even managed to hold off the shakes until we were given the course timetable. Despite my desperate efforts with a red biro, there seemed no way of converting the word ‘shorthand’ into ‘playtime’. Life it seems, as everyone keeps telling us, is only journalism and Sainsbury’s wraps for the next nine weeks.


Over the next nine weeks I am set to become a 'fully-trained journalist'. This means that everything that I used to know stops and I throw myself into seven days a week, god knows how many hours a day reporting, editing and generally making a nuisance of myself to both the tutors at PMA and the unsuspecting people who will form the news stories of tomorrow.

Here you will be able to find musings (rarely), rants (often), cake (if you're very lucky) and anything else that my eyes can still focus on without wanting to sleep.