oh london, you know how I adore you.
8 november: arrive at heathrow. terminal 5 reminds me of the buildings in the movie brazil. in a coma most of day. spent quality time in crypal with the girls.
9 november: still sleepy. lunch at domali (some kind of cheese and veggie sausage toastie with loads of mustard was in order). jenn connor showed up! dinner at the berry jones casa: butternut squash risotto (which kicks off a week of what feels like a weight-gain diet!).
10 november: went to planet organic (their food boxes are one of the best tasting food bargains in london; and the crazy selection of outrageously expensive food and tea items is way fun to peruse), met lupe, we sat on a couch in muji and talked, then ate delicious thai food at busaba eatthai (pumpkin curry and pad thai I believe!).
11 november: met one of my many u.k.-based cousins for lunch at ray’s jazz café (chickpea spinach dahl). wow, the entire area surrounding tottenham court road tube station is a huge construction mess! went to the hangover lounge at the lexington for an easy, breezy afternoon with close friends. had my first pub version of a nut roast (not a fan), though it came with butter-drenched veggies, potatoes and yorkshire pudding, which I’d never had and is basically a popover to american palates. not bad.
12 november: headed north to go meet up with peter paphides, said hello to his famous wife and lazy cats, we picked up bob stanley, had a cozy pub lunch (the butternut squash risotto), went record shopping (I got a harry nilsson LP), that was fun. bob and I went to the relocated photographer’s gallery (I was a big fan of the old one). my take: location is fine. there is no natural light inside and the overuse of track lighting is blinding. the photo show we saw by tom wood was excellent but I couldn’t wait to get out of the space. ugh, I hate change. there was also a giant display of a LOLcat in the lobby, which I found disturbing. tonight was a chickfactor dinner party at mildred’s, one of the best vegetarian restaurants in london (on my personal menu: mushroom ale pie with mushy peas and chips).
13 november: I head to bayswater to meet up with jessica would-be-goods. we have delicious mezze at al-waha, where she is treated like royalty. we spend the afternoon with her burmese cats, chatting, eating amazing chocolate and looking at designy stuff. I head to one of my favourite bars, the phoenix theater bar, which is unchanged (and there is a large poster of kirsty maccoll on the wall), where I meet with some of my pals from my london magazine days for some halloumi cheese and drinks. then it’s off to walthamstow to meet with some merge records act, which picks me up at the tube station.
14 november: isn’t walthamstow village lovely? I have lunch with stephen coates at one of london’s private clubs (blacks), where the only veg option sans egg is… butternut squash risotto! later I meet travis and we check out the photographic portrait prize show at the national portrait gallery, which I always go to see and I always complain about. it was very dull this year. most of the photos are unbearably sterile, gimmicky and this year had way too many celebs. after that it was off to the curzon soho, where I attended a screening of lawrence of belgravia followed by a Q&A with director paul kelly and the BFI’s michael hayden, a big indie nerd. it was delightful! except that lupe and al were waiting outside for me and wanted to flipping kill me because they were so hungry (we went to taro for bento!).
15 november: today was a chill morning with pam. I imagine domali was involved, I probably ate some kind of heavy-carbed snack like an HBLT. later we picked up her girls from school and took them to the tate modern. after that I met up with paul kelly and his adorable son donovan at the horseshoe pub, where we are having an event the next night. we ended up having a pint at the betsey trotwood, where we talked about the simpsons a whole lot.
16 november: lunch at the gate islington. I had some kind of enchilada. later I headed over to the horseshoe pub in clerkenwell. gaylord turned up, then paul kelly and donovan, and after a number of bothersome technical issues, we were able to proceed! I had a brie and red pepper panini (too rich for my blood). then various pals began to arrive: the aislers set! the jim ruiz set! pipas! amor de días! the berry joneses! the starfolk! we all settled in to watch take three girls: the dolly mixture story, which is so great; and then gaylord conducted the pop quiz that he and pam and I came up with! good fun was had by all and it was just the way to kick off chickfactor 2012: for the love of pop! weekend in london.
17 november: tonight kicks off the live music portion of the weekend at bush hall! with the lineup that is hard to beat:
honestly, not much could have ruined this night. if I could change one thing, it would have been to keep the audience quiet during amor de días but as pam would say: it’s impossible to get a roomful of people who haven’t seen each other in 15 years to be quiet. everything else was just flat out marvelous. gaylord was the best MC! here’s a post on la terrasse.
18 november: today’s lineup was just as spectacular! the lexington is a dreamy venue, love it. gaylord & the hangover lounge folks = the best DJs!
- tender trap (watch “train from kings cross station” + “do you want a boyfriend?” + “memorabilia” + “leaving christmas day” here) really really stellar set! loved it. just still cannot get over how ace their new album is! amelia talked about the early days of chickfactor, and how it was celebratory instead of angry like riot grrrl. ended the night with everyone dancing like goofballs.
- pipas (watch “barbapapa + “bitter club” + “hiding in the park” + “the occasion” + “rock and/or roll” + “wells street” here) pipas won them over, as always, despite no soundcheck, despite knocking over a lovely guitar several times. another band that should not be allowed to be inert. such charm! such songs!
- the real tuesday weld, who have a foxy new girl singer that attracted every man with a phone camera in the place! always great to see jacques the clarinetist, who commented that the girls in tender trap looked to be about 20. always so entertaining, these guys!
- bridget st john with brian willoughby (strawbs) (watch “ask me no questions” + “hole in my heart” here) bridget is such a lovely presence. it’s always such an honor to have her play our shows! she played “mon gala papillons,” which was inspired by a chickfactor party in london in 2004.
- the jim ruiz set featuring the legendary jim ruiz from the legendary jim ruiz group. I only wish tracey thorn and max eider could have been front and center to watch this charming jazz-tinged minneapolis pop group play their london debut.
- harvey williams + josh gennet (watch “I don’t suppose I’ll get a second chance” + “her boychart” + “colour me in” here) perhaps you remember josh from the u.s. indie band holiday and harvey from such bands as another sunny day, the field mice and trembling blue stars. they also covered carole king & a girl called eddy — my favorite part of the night was teaching ava berry jones to finger snap.
- the starfolk (featuring brian from the hang-ups and allison from the jim ruiz set, typsy panthre, etc) my first time seeing these guys—they were so great! here is a write-up on la terrasse.
see photos from the weekend here from andrew bulhak + marianthi + anneliese + chris stevenson + andy aldridge + natascha unkart.
19 november: it was family time in gerrards cross, buckinghamshire; followed by mellow drinks and snacks at medcalf with travis, josh, sarah, paul, debs & donovan; followed by gentle chilling at lauren’s cozy flat in gipsy hill.
20 november: spitalfields walkabout this morning, checking on how the hood has changed. lunch at mildred’s again, then off to the magma product store. before heading back to SE london to have a low-key night in with the family-friends.
21 november: flew out from terminal 5. they have a wagamama!