Friday night and I’m at home alone watching Frankie and Johnny – a film, appropriately, mostly about a couple of lonely people who have no one to spend the evenings with. It might be my new favourite film. Also I’m being unnecessarily dramatic about being at home alone – I was invited for cocktails, but didn’t notice the message until I was already home and settled, and the Coffee Monster is out watching Black Sabbath. We would have been seeing Neil Gaiman at the Barbican this evening, but did some ticket juggling and are going tomorrow instead.
I have been reading Keith Richard’s autobiography, with soundtrack where possible. So earlier I put Beggars Banquet on the record player (literally – I only have it on vinyl) and read that chapter. I’m loving the book, it’s chatty and meandering and easy to read in Keef’s voice, complete with long explanations about playing style and open tuning. I’m also glad I’m reading it now. If I’d read it at as a teenager I’d have run off to London to take acid – easily influenced, I was, and a massive dreamer. Still am, in fact – easily influenced – which is why I’m currently wearing a disastrous experiment in eyeliner in the style of Orphan Black’s Cosima. Turns out that look works better on people with symmetrical faces, rather than my slightly wonky features.
As it is I’m sat here tinkering with lyrics and wishing I could actually write music. And perform music. Last week I went to Word Factory with my friend Joe, and apart from spine-freezing, tear-leaking readings from Vanessa Gebbie and Carys Bray, Val McDermid read a funny, sad story that included singing. Val McDermid can SING – beautifully – Scottish folksongs. On Monday we went to see the Eels at the Royal Albert Hall – no gig is the same with this band. No beards and boilersuits this time. Well, E had a beard, but short and neat. Suits on, bluesed up. I cried, of course I cried. I always cry at the Eels. Bummer rock. On Wednesday I went home via Southbank and spent half an hour or so eating a frozen yoghurt that, in retrospect, might have been why I was ill yesterday, and watching a very talented fiddle player. She was busking, and so good that one in three people were putting money in her case. She was playing reels, jigs, folk stuff I know and can clumsily work my way through on the violin, but not play anything to the standard of this woman. It was such a surprise to catch that music played, unplanned, in the middle of London. It was such a lift.
I can’t play as well as that, or sing as well as that, or perform, but hearing and seeing and reading about people who are THAT good makes me want to be better. Same with writing, I guess, which is different from all my efforts at sport because however much I run for myself, I know I am slow and that however hard I train will never be above average speed. Writing, I can do just for me and I know I can be above average (a rare moment of confidence there). I want to be good at performing my words as well, I guess. It’s gets old, trying to blend into the scenery. I’ve started looking into another open mic night in London to go and have a go at. Wish me luck.
I think Frankie and Johnny is one of my favourite films.