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Driving Jarvis Ham

TELL US A STORY, JIM BOB


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CHUCK
posted by jim on 6/05/06

It’s a widely recognised dictum (is that the right word?) that you should never meet your heroes. The other night I went to The Purcell Rooms on a busy and hottest-day-of-the-year-so-far South Bank to watch and listen as my hero Chuck Palahniuk read from his latest book. After the reading, an interview, some gags, great anecdotes and a few questions from the audience, there was a mad scramble to get down the front. A mad scramble to get down the front not seen since they opened the gates for the Beatles at Shea Stadium. This particular front was the front of the queue to get stuff signed by – as I’m now going to call him, because we’re now on first name terms – Chuck.

When I finally reached the queue’s front I was sweating from the hottest-day-of-the-year-so-far heat and also because I was nervous. I didn’t want to make a nob of myself or have my picture taken with a phone camera that didn’t work. I didn’t bring half a library with me to be signed, like so many in front of me slowing down the pace of the queue’s progress.
“Shall I dedicate it to somebody?” Chuck asked, or something like that, I was too struck with awe and embarrassment to listen.
“Jim Bob.” I said. I thought this would be good, instead of just saying ‘Jim’. I figured it would look better in the front of the book and my own self-inflated ego told me it would be like having something autographed from one star to another. Like an Elvis record dedicated to John Lennon and signed by the King. “Jim Booowwb?” Chuck said to me, like Meg Ryan did to Kevin Kline in that film French Kiss.
He wrote ‘to Jim Bob – no pearl diving! -– Chuck Palahniuk.’ And as I left he said “see you later, Jim Booowwb” like Meg again. As I left the building, walking past the rest of the long waiting queue of people with their malfunctioning camera phones and Chuck libraries they all looked at me and I knew they were laughing. Earlier on in the evening while writing to go in for the reading, Matt Johnson from The The was sat nearby. When we all went in, he had the seat next but one to me. Not important, just adding a bit of colour to the story.

Every year I used to go to Reading Festival and always used to bump into somebody called Roger. We used to end up spending the day together and he’d always get spectacularly drunk, one year he was there with his girlfriend (at least I think she was) who an actress and the daughter of the bloke from Randall & Hopkirk . She’s since been on telly quite a bit. That same year we also hung out with a pre fame Denise Van Outen. Roger used to be in a band called FMB, I found out this week he won 1.8 million quids on the lottery. That’s nearly two million pounds. Inspired by his work, yesterday, after laying a carpet for my mum, my girlfriend and I bought two Euromillions tickets. And guess what? That’s right, we won fuck all.




LIBRARIES & SUPERMARKETS, CHEESE & POETS
posted by jim on 22/04/06

You may recall me writing on here in the past about Morrisons buying out my local Safeways and then shutting it down, leaving me with nowhere to buy my cheese. I was pleased to hear this week that Sainsburys will be opening a new supermarket in its place in the summer. Just in time hopefully for me to buy some multi-packed ice lollies before the sun goes in.

I played a gig in Wimbledon Library this week. It was always going to be a bit different. The gig was upstairs from where all the Harry Potters are kept, the audience arrived before the gig was open and had to carry their own (swivel) chairs up to the venue.
Because a library is an unlicensed venue the wine was free and so it felt like a small party rather than a gig.

I read some stuff from my Carter book (‘gulp!’ as Time Out would say) and played some songs. I chickened out of reading anything from my new unpublished book but did have a stab at a passage from an Elton John biography that was on the windowsill behind the ‘stage’. I resisted saying that I had a stab at Elton John’s passage there, I hope you’re proud of me.

When the enjoyable gig was over, a couple of ladies were telling me how they’d enjoyed the gig and one of them said I had a charming manner, the kind of manner that would allow me to get away with saying any old nonsense. They particularly liked my reading of the Adrian’s Magic Pants story – pooh and all. It turns out she was Dylan Thomas' daughter
This completely made the evening for me.

This morning I played a couple of acoustic tunes and had a chat on Crystal Palace FC radio.





THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY MORNING
posted by jim on 14/04/06

Would it be going too far if I said that Mike Skinner is a genius?
I’ve been playing the new Streets album The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living
a lot and it’s really that good. It’s got sad moments and funny moments and it’s all over in less than forty minutes. No dicking around with beats and loops or guest show offs, just straight in there with the story and out again when it’s finished. Morgan from the Senseless Things is involved with The Streets in a fairly big way, I bumped into Morgan about a year or so ago at a party on a boat. There were a lot of music business types there from my past and many of them had either forgotten who I used to be or thought it would be best to pretend that they had. Morgan on the other hand was the same as he ever was…same as he ever was. A charming young man as Morrissey once said.

I’ve been passing much of my day and night writing. Not songs though, which is a slight worry. Considering that’s what I supposedly do for a semi living. I wonder if I’ll ever write another song and making my recent pledge to myself that I wouldn’t write songs just because I had to ever again may have been a foolhardy mistake.

I’ve got a gig in a Library next Thursday. details
I’ll be playing some songs and reading from my Carter book and possibly also something from my unpublished ‘novel’ because Marc (manager, style advisor) has told everyone I will. I need to find something short enough so people don’t start shouting “Play a fucking song!” at me halfway through. I may attempt one of the more self-contained ‘funny stories’ and hope for the best. It’s a library, what’s the worst that can happen.

I’m reading this book at the moment
it's good

More soon.



SCHOOL TOUR DIARY PART LAST
posted by jim on 1/04/06

As the Big O once said through coal tinted glasses, it’s over, it’s over, it’s ooooooooverrr. Just as I was staring to get warmed up it’s time to unpack my fag stinking personals and go back to my day job (watching Neighbours and not shaving).

The final two gigs brought Team Jim Bob and – surely now a full member of TJB – Chris T-T to Winchester and Shepherd’s Bush. Chris was born in Winchester and before the gig we went round to his mum and dad’s house for tea and biscuits and the first non-filthy and juvenile conversation of the tour. Chris’ parents are lovely.

Winchester Tower Arts Centre is another seated gig and once again makes for a polite but very appreciative audience and also once again makes me more of a stand up comedian than usual. I don’t know what it is, the seats and the theatrical nature of a venue – the bar was only open for ‘the interval’ – that makes me come over (ooer) all Eddie Izzard. It was also the drunkest I’ve been on stage for a while, mixing my drinks like an 18 year old birthday boy and all on an empty, yet rapidly expanding in direct proportion to Mr Spoon’s shrinking stomach. Mr S has shed a stone and a half through staying clear for the past month of the three horsemen of the apocalypse, sugar, fat and alcohol. Spoons now resembles a younger, cocknier Neil Tennant.

So. London. It always seems to end here. We once mucked around with the rules of rock ‘n’ roll and played the London date in the middle of the tour but it made one or two of the following gigs seem slightly anti-climatic, somewhat empty and also left Neil with a big fat drive home at the end of it all.

Bush Hall was built by the publisher William F. Hurndall as a gift for his daughter. He had three daughters and he built a dance hall for each of them, his favourite one was Bush Hall and he used to live upstairs – I’m presuming he’s dead and not the oldest man in the world. The venue is still covered in the original ornate plasterwork and if I could have reached them I would have swung from one of the chandeliers hanging from the decorative ceiling during ‘The Headmaster’s Song’.

Milk Kan were extra guests for London and were superb and Chris managed to not pick a fight with them (see previous blog). T-T was of course tremendous too, in spite of a few sound problems on stage. He should be more of a star than he already is to many of us. Still, in a world where Coldplay have just been told their latest album was the biggest selling record on the planet last year, should I really expect any different?

Me next. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet but if I did I’d probably say that I was brilliant in a big cheek swelling fanfare. I got a bit carried away at Bush Hall, I like it when that happens. When I’m like Pete Townsend or Keef Richards , ready to chop any mutha fuckers down who try to get onstage to give me a hug or ask for an autograph. Not really, but I like to think I gave it every last bit of my all.

40 people had advance tickets for London but mysteriously didn’t show up for the gig, I’d love to know why. Please send us a web message or tell us on the Carter forum. I hope it wasn’t anything tragic or awful and was just because you decided Razorlight at the Albert Hall would be better or you wanted to keep your ticket un-torn and intact to frame on your wall as a part of your expanding shrine to me. Thanks to everyone who made it along and likewise to everyone else who turned up at any of the other shows.

See you at the library.

This week’s recommendations:






SINGING DUSTMEN (PLUMBERS & ELCTRICIANS)
posted by jim on 27/03/06

Part two in a trilogy of tour diaries and I’m pretty tired. Not like I’ve run a marathon, or even half a marathon like my fit – in so many ways – manager Marc, but just plain shagged out. Too much gin, too much tonic, not enough sleep, addicted to the plink, plink fizz of Alka Selzter type of tiredness. Anyway, I’m home for a couple of days, the tour has been fun and eventful. Chris T-T and I are fast becoming the indie Journey South, currently at Number 1 in the album charts with the singing dustman mmm smooooth at Number 2, Jesus, I leave the house for a couple of weeks and the whole country goes stupid and mad in the head). By the way, the dustman’s record is called ‘The Impossible Dream’, oh the many levels of irony. If it wasn’t for Russell Watson, Andrea Bocelli, Jack Johnson, Vitorio Grigolo, Barry Manilow, Dave Gilmour and Kelly Clarkson the LP charts would be full of middle of the road manufactured guff, thank God for my idol David Essex at number 7 with his greatest hits. Rock on.

Since my last post Team Jim Bob/Team T-T have been to Leicester, Sheffield, Hull and Hastings. Along the way we’ve discovered ‘the best deep filled chocolate pudding in the world’ (Chris T-T) in a café in Matlock, we’ve met the 118 guys -– also on tour in this van We also started another Arctic Monkeys rumour at the Sheffield venue where two members of the band worked till recently. The new rumour is that the singer is my love child.

Along the way we’ve had stage invasions, upset two support acts and at least one drunk woman wearing a skirt made from her front room curtains. In Hastings Mr Spoons took the afternoon off to go see Palace play in Derby. Whenever Spoons is absent things seem to go a bit norks up and so I wasn’t surprised to turn up at the venue to find the gig double booked and a band already sound checking enough musical equipment to open a parallel universe Charing Cross Road. Chris called them emo and as if to prove his point they got all emotional about it and said he was a beardy twat and it looked like we might have a dressing room brawl on our hands without Mr Spoons there to split it up with his size. There was no fight of course, although the double booked band’s mum did keep getting deliberately in our way all night.

The other trub with special guests involved a top hat, a mouth organ, an accusation of paedophilia and some hilarious musical/political/comedy in the unintentional style of Legs Akimbo

That’s it for now, things are potentially going well for the School album. If the promised reviews and radio play becomes fact I’ll be happy. I’m off now to respond to the critics on the Carter messageboard, be afraid, be very afraid.





THE PAST IS A DIFFERENT COUNTY
posted by jim on 20/03/06

Within the first couple of days of this tour (Bath and Brighton) I would meet my daughter’s best friend’s mum, Carter’s press officer and three separate people I used to be in bands with way back in the very late nineteen seventies and early eighties. My past has moved South.

The School tour begins with a long slow drive North across London to collect the digital piano we’re borrowing, it weighs twelve and a half tons. Then the currently teatotal, dried fruit eating Mister Spoons aims the Popemobile in the direction of Bath for the first date of a short tour. It’s good to get away, I was becoming a right old misery guts and getting on the nerves of my homies.

Bath is a pretty unique place. I know it’s obvious but I was struck by how all the houses and buildings are the same shade of nicotined magnolia. I wondered if in spite of the beauty of it all the monochromia (that’s two new words I’ve invented so far) ever got local people down. I asked the audience at the gig and the general consensus was no, especially when the sun shines and the town glows like it’s made from gold. Great gig by the way,

Left early-ish the next morning to get to Brighton in time to meet a glazier who was going to remove Chris T-T’s front room window so we could get the biggest and heaviest sideboard ever built through the resulting hole. Don’t say I never do any proper work.

Brighton Komedia is a nice venue, with tables and chairs for the audience and a curtained off bar with whispering bar staff. It has a calming effect on the audience causing shyness. I think if the Americans had parachuted thousands of circular candlelit tables and chairs into Iraq instead of all the bombs everything might have been so different. It’s a wonderful gig, maybe I talk too much – as somebody once said, making it at times closer to stand up comedy than music. The bit of the set with Chris on the piano is taking shape now and sounds particularly good tonight.

Wolverhampton is more of a rowdy – and upstairs in the dressing room area at least – piss stinking gig. Still a great success though, I chuck in a few more Carter songs than on the other dates and up the bad language and everyone seems to be happy. It’s a diverse place is Britain. Bath, Brighton and Wolves could have been different countries in terms of audience and audience reaction.

We drop manager Marc off at a hotel near the NEC where he’s looking after Brian Blessed and Ben Fogle for the weekend. On the drive back, Mr Spoons, Chris T-T and myself bite into strong cinnamon Tic-Tacs ouch and then press the broken mints into our tongues to see how long we can endure the pain. I can only manage a couple of seconds but Chris can totally overcome the minty agony, mind you he is a Reiki Master.

Get home for a wash and brush up and to read the reaction on the Carter message board to the School album. Not enough metal guitars and too much cardboard in the sleeve it seems. Oh well, we learn by our mistakes.

More soon.




OLD MISERY GUTS
posted by jim on 8/03/06

D’ya know what really burns my ass?
A flame about yea high.

That’s a joke that doesn’t work because it’s essentially visual.
Other stuff that really burns my ass:

There’s that TV ad, I think it’s for pressing your red button on the BBC – I hardly ever make it to the ad’s punch line as my girlfriend hits mute before it gets that far – anyway, it’s the ad where the bloke is sitting in the pub listening to the fantastic and sad ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ by The Hollies and then it gets replaced by the far more exciting karaoke almost in tune version of ‘Sweet Soul Music’ sung by somebody who can’t pronounce the word ‘music’. What’s my point? I don’t know. Maybe that wonderfully poignant music on a jukebox with a quiet drink is better than being shouted at almost in tune by a wedding group. Therefore the ad is wrong and rubbish. I don’t even know what it’s advertising for definite so it’s failed on so many levels.

I’ve been feeling a bit low lately, can’t explain why. I started to think about getting out of London again. I’ve been living in the same place forever and need a change. Somewhere with chickens to defy the bird flu scare. A place with less shouting in the street and not so many shootings. Less shouting and shooting, is that too much to ask for? Two people were executed at point blank range yesterday about five minutes from my house. What bothers me apart from the senseless murder is the way I was somehow relieved to read the words ‘drug related’, making me breathe a sigh of relief that they aren’t coming for me next. That can’t be a good way to be.

On a more positive tip – cue out of tune BBC singers and hilarious scratch of halted record sound fx – I recorded a radio session with Chris T-T. The School album looks and sounds great. The tour starts next week.

Next time it’ll be funnier.

RIP






GOD LIKE GENIUS
posted by jim on 25/02/06

The NME Awar…Sorry I’ll start again. The Shockwaves NME Awards seems a bit of a mean spirited occasion. The back slapping all comes with a dig in the ribs and a stab in the back. Even after the Sugarbabes had played a cover of ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor’ that boy from the Arctic Monkeys couldn’t be pleased without being a bit snide as well. I was pleased and proud, having written the song and thought it was a rocking version.

Nobody appears to really want to win an award – a middle fingered statue that you can’t show off to your grandparents – and about the most rock ‘n’ roll thing you can do at the event is to accept your award graciously with a thank you and a short speech without saying the word fuck. Which brings me to Bono and Bob Geldof, who thanked us all for saving the poor and then went all rude and sweary about it, just like all the young dudes had been doing all night. You might think they’d be old enough to know better. I sometimes wish they didn’t have their good deeds and the Boomtown Rats to fall back on so I could really say what an embarrassing couple they’ve become.

I went to the NME Awards many years back. When they were called The Brats. I went with my manager Adrian, we both got pretty drunk and told Michael Eavis he had his head on upside down, then Adrian called Eavis a c word and I’ve always thought this may have been why I’ve never been asked to perform at Glastonbury. On the plus side I haven’t had to suffer trench foot. Also that night I remember walking around with Blur drummer Dave Rowntree and punching celebrities in an amusing way. Dave now spends his days at his computer animation company and on missions to Mars, while I’m a well respected acoustic performer and published author. Neither of us has the time to punch musicians and swear under the influence any more.

Thank you and fuck off.






FUNNY TITLE
posted by jim on 16/02/06

http://www.davegorman.com/images/whackbox.jpg
Dave Gorman was standing in for Tom Robinson on his radio show and I went on as a guest. I performed ‘Taking Care Of The Caretaker’, the first verse of ‘Falling On A Bruise’, after which I forgot the words and compensated with ‘The Only Living Boy In New Cross’. I get terribly nervous in one to one singing situations, even though I felt very comfortable talking. I like Dave Gorman a lot so it’s good for my ego that he also likes me. Often meeting famous people you admire lives up to the cliché of being a disappointment, I once met Elvis Costello and didn’t really like him, Nick Cave also is a God to me but he wasn’t the loveliest man I’d ever met when I did so, maybe they were both thinking ‘That Jim Bob was a twat. I feel so let down.’

On the radio show I let the cat out of the bag, not only by saying what my ‘novel’ was about but also that I had started writing another. Who the hell do I think I am? Truman Capote? William Shakespeare? Alan Tits ‘n’ Arse?

The rumour continues to spread – not exactly like wild fire – but maybe like a big old 20% extra free tub of Clover. The rumour is that I or Les, or Les and I wrote the Arctic Monkeys songs. The NME rang last week and I couldn’t possibly have commented on the rumour.

Countdown has begun to the ‘School’ tour and album release. I’ve got the finished album, the sleeve is fantastic, lots to look at and read while you’re listening to the utterly fantastic music. A good argument against the download and the MP3.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Cheese Monkeys’ by Chip Kidd. It is superb.
http://www.goodisdead.com/

Also ‘Dirty Blonde at the Cash Machine’, a book of poems by Ray Hollingsworth. It comes in a fancy Dan book with pictures and like ‘School’ is an argument against the MP3, or rather the online book.
http://www.cultpoet.co.uk/index.html

I’ve been listening to more Bob Dylan and also to prove I’m not stuck in the past, the new Belle & Sebastian album. I hadn’t bought any Belle & Seb albums until the previous one and so hadn’t experienced them swearing before as they do on the new one, it’s almost gratuitous, fantastically so.

Watching ‘The IT Crowd’, a programme that some people have been upset by. I think a comedy that actually makes you laugh goes against the grain a bit, what were they thinking? Not to worry, the laughs will be over in just 6 episodes and we can return to a bloke dressed as an old lady having a piss in a slightly different location week after hilarious week.

I didn’t get a Brit Award again.
http://brits.co.uk/contact/





LET'S GET IT ON
posted by jim on 14/02/06

I haven’t said this enough and I didn’t get you a card or buy you any flowers or chocolates. But I love you. Thank you for reading my blogs.
http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/vtbear/flowerswithbears.jpg






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