More trains

After the excesses of yesterday, spent most of Boxing day reading, finishing off Platform Souls by Nicholas Whittaker. This was an impulse buy at the Ian Allan shop by Manchester Piccadilly station on 1 November 1996 (just after the paperback had come out - I still have the till receipt) and has been lying around, like loads of other books I still mean to read, unread until a day or two ago, when I went searching for it spurred on by finishing Parallel Lines. It was a compelling read, much more focussed than Ian Marchant's book (tho Marchant admits to having less interest in locos than the permanent way itself). Whittaker came to trainspotting in the mid-1960s just as steam was being replaced by diesels, and as the diesels were replaced by electrics ten years later. He was based in Burton, LMS but also well placed for excursions into Great Western and LNER territory. The regional differences in loco nicknames was fascinating: what he calls Blackies (Black Fives), we called Mickies (mixed traffic 4-6-0 Class 5MT) - and isn't that a mickey (44871) that Jinx is standing by on p84, not an 8-freight? - we said Jubs for Jubilees, Brits for Britannias, and I think what he called Ozzies (Austerity) we called Dubdees (WDs). He doesn't mention Pats or Duchesses (or Princesses) but maybe they were on the way out by then. Jinties, 92-ers and Crabs (named after the way they moved) were the same, but what on earth an Egg Timer or Duck Six was, I've no idea! I was trainspotting in the late-50s early-60s and do remember the thrill of seeing the prototype Deltic (in blue livery with white chevrons, just like an American diesel) on the East Coast line at Doncaster, and travelling to Sheffield through the Woodhead tunnel to cop (and I suppose 'bash') the 1.5kV DC electric class EM2 locos 27000 to 27006, all namers (how I wish I still had the photos I took with my Boots 35mm camera - and all my ABC Combines!). Neverthless, I never did see anything special in diesels or electrics! My favourite trips were to Crewe (usually on a platform ticket from Manchester) with Roy Henshall to see the Duchesses, Princesses and Scots, or to Doncaster to cop Streaks and all those exotic A1s, A2s and A3s, plus lowlier V2 namers, each with strange cropped windshields. But what was I doing at the end of steam in 1968? Presumably I'd lost interest by then, an interest only rekindled by nostagia. Like Whittaker, I'm ambivalent about heritage railways (too clean) and don't feel I fit in with the regular spotters. I'd love to go on a railway holiday to Poland or New Zealand, but fear I wouldn't have anything much to say to my fellow passengers!


Xmas swimmers

Xmas swimmers, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Mid-day swimmers by the West Pier, Brighton, on Xmas day, a surprisingly mild day.


Corner parking

Corner parking, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Corner parking vigilantes strike back on the corner of Ditchling Rise and Gerard Street. Corner parking, usually at 45 degrees, is a new phenomenon around here!

Burning The Clocks: from the Argus

Thousands join Burning The Clocks procession: the Argus's take on the event.


Burning the clocks

Burning the clocks, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Burning the Clocks is the ancient ceremony invented by Same Sky 11 years ago to celebrate the Winter Solstice. Kiddies (and artists) with lanterns parade round the cold streets of Brighton only to burn their creations on a beach bonfire along Madeira Drive. Spectators were genuinely needy for a meaning to all this and were speculating all kinds of things, mainly that it was a traditional pagan rite, but did they in fact have clocks before the year zero? I think not. More photos on Flickr.


Bexhill sunset

Bexhill sunset, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Went on a small train journey to Bexhill on Sea to see the De La Warr Pavilion for the first time since its restoration (it was originally commissioned by the 9th Earl De La Warr in 1935 and designed by architects Eric Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff). Full of video art and with a tasteful retail experience I wonder what the folks of Bexhill think of it - some disaffected youths were cycling and skateboarding amongst the no cycling and no skateboarding signs outside. Saw this amazing sunset over Beachy Head - a warning to any potential suicides?


Embassy Court

Embassy Court, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Nice to see Embassy Court has a brand new entrance and sign (more in keeping than the poor typography used on the renovated Saltdean Lido) - the foyer looks a little bare, no sign of the E McKnight Kauffer mural once there.... See my previous blog entry.


George Best RIP

George Best RIP, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

It's a week or two since George Best died, but this graff has appeared on the wall of The Prince Albert, next to Banksy's kissing policemen.


Field of dreams

Field of dreams, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

The Field of Dreams - site for the new Brighton and Hove Albion stadium. I'm pretty sure this is the site - between the University of Brighton and the southern half of Falmer village (the bit with the pond), bounded by two roads. Seagulls!



Just finished reading Parallel lines by Ian Marchant, which I really enjoyed. It was recommended on Dave Shelton's blog, so someone must read them! It's about trains (hurrah!), but it also has a Brighton connection, a Lancashire connection, diatribes about drugs, access fathers and hippy yurts (two reasons why he doesn't do sweat lodges: one, he didn't want to look at hippies' penises, and two he didn't wany foxy hippy chicks looking at his!) and a cover by Jonny Hannah, who is currently exhibiting in Judy Stevens' Open House at 6 Clifton Street. I'm not a great book reader, doing most of my reading on trains, strangely enough! I recently wimped out of a girly book group cos I couldn't manage a book a month. The last proper book I read all the way through was the autobiography of Wreckless Eric, another local lad. This library book took ages to read, despite being so entertaining - it's one of those post-modern books, in which the author talks about himself a lot, and I do wish he'd cut down on the smoking. Nevertheless, it makes me want to go on some great small train journeys of my own (rail bashing). I have happy memories of trainspotting at Crewe and Doncaster in the 1950s (with the odd excursion to Chester to cop some Westerns), but do find the heritage railways like the Bluebell up the road and the East Lancs in my home town of Bury a bit too clean. And how did he miss the gorgeous Bayer-Garratt at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry? I'm no great fan of narrow gauge railways either, but I did visit the Talyllyn and Ffestiniog railways when I were a lad at Butlin's Pwllheli . There was a miniature railway there too (and the real full-size Princess Elizabeth, as a static display to climb all over!), and the book brought back fond memories of little tiny train journeys round a corner of Stoke Park, Guildford and around Blackpool Pleasure Beach (where there's another Princess Elizabeth I seem to remember) and my Tri-ang 00 (or is that OO) train set (yes, I had Princess Elizabeth too). Happy days.



Snowman, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

So here it is, Merry Chrismas, everybody's having fun! Giant inflatable snowman outside Tastables, London Road, Brighton.


Remains of pier on the brink

Remains of pier on the brink: "A crashing wave left the last surviving building on the battered and burnt West Pier on the verge of collapse." It's gone now - I caught a glimpse of it Friday night in a precarious position. Time to call it a day on 'restoration'? Best to leave it as a picturesque ruin for the starlings and as a reef underwater.

Starlings on the West Pier

Starlings on the West Pier, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

The little white kiosk may have slipped into the sea during this weekend's wind, but the starlings still swarm and make fantastic amorphous shapes at sunset, a sight Bill Oddy said was one of the free wonders of the world. Leave the West Pier for them, and as a reef for the creatures beneath the waves.


Brian Grimwood

Brian Grimwood, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Britain's greatest living illustrator Brian Grimwood is currently showing his prints and paintings, including homages to Alfred Wallis and Picasso at The Dragonfly House, 48 Ditchling Road, Brighton, as part of the Xmas Open Houses this weekend (3 and 4 December) and next (10 and 11 December) 11am until 6pm. Betty Bib and Yours Truly will also be on show. Come and say hello. More photos as ever on Flickr.


In Sand at The Sanctuary

In Sand, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Went to The Sanctuary Cafe in Hove last night for 'One Voice', an evening of poetry (from The South) and improvised music (from the Safehouse Experimental Music Collective), starring my old mate Gus Garside on double bass (is there a single bass out there, I wonder?). I was half anticipating the sound of strangled cats, but it was all rather lyrical and soothing. First up were Voyages Ensemble, comprising guitar, two tenor saxes, a flute/alto, violin and a trumpet - echoes of Jimmy Giuffre's 'Four Brothers' in there somewhere. In between their two sets were two poets - Tom Cunliffe and Lorna Thorpe - and the music won I'm afraid. These poets seem to be stuck in the 60s somewhere (and Lorna was rude about cyclists!) and the dull delivery, which could have added a counterpoint to the music, didn't. After the interval we had four fifths of 'In Sand', a string band with Gus on bass and sampler, Richard Padley on guitar, Danny Kingshill on 'cello and voice, and Satoko Fukuda on violin (who also played with the first half band). Absent was Thor Magnuson on laptop. Sublime! In between sets we had John 'Shed Man' Davies, backed in part by Gus and Satoko, and 'performance poet' (does that mean she reads from memory?) Bernadette Cremin. A great evening, and moving to the (nearer for me) Open House soon. More photos on Flickr.


Patsy Palmer

Patsy Palmer, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Popped along to the Kemp Town Winter Festival and spotted Kemp Town's newest resident and star of Strictly Come Dancing Patsy Palmer (best known as Bianca in Eastenders) attempting to light up a lantern (where were the proper lights?) - also spotted author Simon Fanshawe, food critic Andrew Kay and a bloke from The Piranhas (not Boring Bob Grover, the other one).


Seaford museum

Seaford museum, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

What a find! Took a quick detour during last Sunday's Clarion ride and visited Seaford museum. It's my kind of museum - lots and lots of stuff, and not too many boards to read! Bury museum has been refurbished, but where have all the things gone? A few choice items in dainty display cases and loads of video screens and boards full of tiny text. No good at all. Here at Seaford is a real old-fashioned museum, how they ought to be!

Housed in a Martello Tower (No 74) from Napoleonic times, it's a Tardis of a building with a smallish entrance hall and shop, with steps leading up to the roof and gigantic cannon, but downstairs it spreads out for miles, piled high with old radios, cameras, home computers, sewing machines, electric fires and all sorts of domestic detritus. A bit like my gaff, actually. Wonder if they take donations? A re-visit soon is definitely on the cards.


This blog now has its own domain! Put http://www.fredblog.co.uk/ in your bookmarks.


Virtual Brighton Mag review of Cock and Bull

My review of A Cock and Bull Story in Virtual Brighton Magazine.

Comic Expo

comix3, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Spent an hour or so on Saturday at Comic Expo, which was basically a lot of stands in the Brighton Metropole selling comics. What did I expect? The UK's most underrated cartoonist Hunt Emerson - with hangover from Bob Dylan concert at NEC previous night - very kindly signed (and drew on) some of my books of his. All thanks to Cartoon County for getting me in at a discount!


A cock and bull story

Went on a Day Saver adventure (nearly a punch up on the 7 bus between little old lady and bunch of polite guys from Dubai when she complained that 'we don't shout in England') down to the Marina for the launch of Brighton's film festival at the swanky Seattle Hotel. I thought the speakers (including Jonathan Woodham) were saying 'Sin City', which sounded promising, but it was really CineCity. Full details on www.cine-city.co.uk. We arrived just as the bar, serving Havana Club-based cocktails, closed!! However we did get a goody bag containing a small bottle of rum. Missed the canapes too (but Angie bought some popcorn)! Spotted Julie Burchill, but no movie stars. The festival kicked off with a special preview of A Cock and Bull Story, not scheduled for release until the New Year. Directed by Michael Winterbottom (24 hour party people, Wonderland, 9 songs) it's an attempt to shoot an adaptation of Laurence Sterne's novel 'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman', one of those 'unfilmable' books. If my memory serves me well, this bawdy bewildering novel is about the impossibility of writing an autobiography, because it would take greater than a lifetime to write it, plus the fact that it takes Shandy two volumes to get past being born. The form of the book is very strange, too (a post-modern classic written way before there was any modernism to be post about) with blank pages, black pages (yes, they do it in the film!) and lots of dashes and doodles. I suppose you have to know this to make any sense of the film. It starts in makeup where Steve Coogan (who plays Tristram and his father Walter) is having the kind of nose that Terry Gilliam wanted Matt Damon to have in 'The Brothers Grimm', while bantering with 'co-lead' Rob Brydon (who plays Uncle Toby, a kind of Don Quixote character) about billing, heel height and the Dulux shade of his teeth. Then with the opening credits we have Steve Coogan as our hero striding out to the stirring sounds of Michael Nyman's 'Chasing sheep is best left to shepherds' from 'The Draughtsman's Contract', the first of a couple of recycled tracks from the groundbreaking Peter Greenaway film, a cunning film-buff shortcut for establishing the period. And is that in fact the same house they're using? Coogan is talking to camera about Groucho Marx - what, in the 18th century? Is he in character or just in costume (he has no wig after all). Do we care? Coogan and Brydon also play themselves, well sort of: Coogan has a 'wife' played by gorgeous Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald, and a baby. He's also having an affair with Naomie Harris, a production runner fascinated by the films of Fassbinder. The 'real' people also act with people not playing themselves, such as Brighton's own Mark Williams, as a pedantic re-enactment expert working on the battle scene we never get to see. Confused yet? It's a bit like 'The French Lieutenant's Woman', where Jeremy Irons and Meryl Streep have an 'off-screen' romance as well as the on-screen one. All a bit of a shambles really. The film awards itself two stars (an own goal) when they manage to secure Gillian Anderson for the romantic part of Widow Wadman – something that the Brydon character, as an X-files fan, is very nervous about. He has posters of her on his bedroom wall. There are cameos by Tony Wilson (with an 'it'll be on the DVD' nod to Party People), Sgt Bob Cryer from The Bill, the bloke from Vicar of Dibley, the woman from Extras, David Walliams as the curate, and many other stars of British comedy. The funniest bits are Rob Brydon's impersonations, Coogan as Roger Moore, for example. But overall it was more like Morecambe and Wise doing a play what they wrote. Will it travel, with all that in-jokery? I doubt it. A brave effort, but Terry Gilliam would have done it so much better.


Small art

Small art, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A gallery for Small Art at the exhibition of Worthing-based RAG at the compact but conveniently located Start Gallery.

The Zombies

The Zombies, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Just time for a quick glass of wine at the PV of Worthing-based RAG at the compact but conveniently located Start Gallery, en route to the Old Market in Hove and a gig with The Zombies. Dan Thompson (witty collages and skateboards) and others (I did like Michelle Dawson's digital prints) have assembled a fine eclectic mix, including a gallery within a gallery – a doll's house full of art! Worthing (and Crawley) art seems much less precious and more accessible than Brighton (and Hove) Art. A breath of fresh air to the City art scene. Long may they prosper.

Looking at the average age (my age!) of the punters milling around the entrance to the Old Market, it was no surprise that the hall was laid out cabaret-fashion, with tables and chairs. No mosh pit tonight!

Original Zombies, singer Colin Blunstone and songwriter/organist Rod Argent, have been reunited under this brand after splitting up way back in 1967. I must confess to being familiar with just two of their tunes – the wonderfully evocative 'She's not there' and from their second album Odessey And Oracle (via the classic compilation The rock machine turns you on) the more hippy 'Time Of The Season'. There was no support and the band started without ceremony the first of two sets. First up was 'I love you' and Colin, in black crushed velvet jacket is in very fine voice, still hitting those high notes! Next up was one of Ray Charles' finest 'Sticks and stones' and Solomon Burke's soulful 'Can't nobody love you'. Then a new one, Mystified' and back to soul for Jimmy Ruffin's 'What becomes of the broken hearted'. Took me right back to my Twisted Wheel days in Manchester! I'd love to go back to hear a typical Beat group's repertoire again. They finished with 'Time of the season', and Argent's 'Keep on rollin' and 'Hold your head up'.

The band was a real family affair with Jim Rodford, a founder member of Argent and cousin to Rod on bass, Jim's son Steve on drums and Mark Johns on lead guitar. Jim played with The Kinks, and Mark was in Ray Davies's band on his recent tour. I suspect they'd all like to have as much hair as him if they could! The second half was more of the same class act, with songs from Colin's solo album and some recent songs. Highlights included a fan presenting Colin with bunch of roses during Tim Hardin's 'Misty roses' (does this happen every gig?) and great powerful organ solo on 'Indication' quoting 'God rest ye merry gentlemen' and 'I do like to be beside the seaside'! The inevitable finale was, of course, 'She's not there'. Encores were 'God gave rock'n'roll to you' and Gershwin's 'Summertime', a strange choice maybe, but it was on their first album, after all. No 'Tell Her No', but otherwise a near perfect gig, the kind you usually only see in the Brighton Centre! Stadium rock in the sitting room – with a nice pint of Harvey's. My kind of gig. Even got their autographs on my set list.


Lost Generation

I'm proud to say I had a hand in writing Channel 4's Lost Generation website - the extensive family history section to be precise. Looking forward to watching The Somme on Monday.


Very small art

Dan Thompson of RAG has pointed me to Worthing's Big Art application, but also points out that at the Start show in Brighton (from 17 November) you'll see some really small art - they recently opened a professional, contemporary gallery in a converted doll's house. All the art is original, just 1/12th the normal size and price. Business rates are more affordable, too. Why doesn't Brighton have something like RAG??


Big Art, small art

Everyone wants Big Art these days. Channel 4 has a Big Art compo on at the moment and since Brighton was given a load of dosh for Art, as a consolation prize for not getting City of Culture, there's plenty of lolly for artists, so long as you do Big Art. I've been fortunate to attend various council meetings recently and at almost all of them there is mention of money for Art, though not perhaps art as we know it. At a cycle reps meeting, for example, we heard about the 'Bike Ballet' (scheduled for 22 September 2006, by Zap Productions), part of the B&H Arts Commission's 'Making a difference' project. And at a recent Sustainability Commission meeting, we heard about Eco-Brighton, also part of 'Making a difference'. There are four strands: Creating: £210,000 for creating new work. For artists and arts organisations to 'transform perceptions, change lives and expand horizons'. Transforming: £119,000 to transform the physical environment of the city, ie public art. Living: £159,000 for 'making a difference' to people's lives, includes £20,000 for Say Aah - arts and health - and Celebrating Age (creativity of older people) - apparently Cyril Mount is involved in this one (and how old is old? over 50? that's all right then). Working: no sum mentioned, with Creative Brighton, for developing the arts and creative industries in Brighton, and this means mainly training, plus £50,000 for a 'growing the grassroots' programme to help people starting out. The first 2 projects: Small Wonder's Palm House performance last month and Eco-Education (artists' residencies in schools) managed by Same Sky New projects announced in October 2005 include: Park Art: £55,000 for green spaces Liquid Future: £10,000 for water-based art Eco-City in Bloom: £10,000 for living (plants?) sculpture Then there's another £750k for Urban Cultural Programme, and probably lots more (there was something to do with Art and food, but can't find it). So, not much hope for small artists in all this - but don't dispair, Chalk Gallery in Lewes promises a Christmas exhibition entitled 'Small and not so small' featuring works by 21 professional Sussex artists. And there's always to Open Houses.



Fopp, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Never mind Bill's and YO! Sushi! What Brighton needs is a Fopp record shop, and one is coming to North Street soon!


Mrs D's pies

Mrs D's pies, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I bought this vegetable pasty from Mrs D's on Gardner Street, Brighton for my tea on Sunday after the Clarion bike ride. Very tasty at £1.50.


Giants of Steam

Giants of Steam, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Spent a few precious moments on the platform of Sheffield Park station on Sunday at the Bluebell Railway's Giants of Steam gala weekend, during a Clarion bike ride from Lewes. Some of the locos were built at Brighton loco works, including this BR Standard 2-6-4 tank No.80151 - built in 1957.


Some girls are bigger than others

Some girls are bigger than others by Anonymous Society. I'm so glad I don't have to write reviews for a living! This one would be difficult and I think on balance I'm neutral on this one. I so wanted to like this musical celebration of Morrissey and Marr's (darker, sadder) songs, and had high expectations of this production. I have to agree with the Argus review about the treatment of some of the songs, as flamenco, torch song or jazzy blues, in the style of Tom Jones or Joss Stone - there was even a duet! - but they were strong enough to transcend any repurposing. Peter and Lisa did like the interpretations, but I would have preferred them done straight. It could have been much better, but I'm not offering any suggestions. The Smiths were such a great band, head and shoulders above all the others, and deserve a better tribute. The stage was set with a last supper on the left (the tablecloth to be used in the action) with a large wall with door behind, and what looked like a radio half way up. To the right was a coffee table area with mirrored 'changing room' and behind that on a raised platform, the string quartet in DJs (the cellist did look a bit like Mozza in profile!). Behind them was a projection, mostly of a young boy stripped to the waist - a bit too homo-erotic for my taste. Sitting at the side of the Royal circle, we couldn't see this at first, so moved to more central seats - there were plenty of empty ones to choose from. I have no idea what the dance was all about (never understood the language of dance!), the retching and falling over, nor the spoken word stuff, but the songs were superb, though despite what it says in the Guardian review, we never got the title song, nor any of Mozza's wittier pieces. The Colonnade next door to the theatre does a fine pint of Harvey's - a real foamer. And it's the place to spot celebs - as well as members of the cast (we asked why no trapeze at the Theatre Royal?), Ardal O'Hanlon from Father ted was holding court as we left.

Preston Place

New flats built on historic site are courting controversy: 'The mock Tudor mansion, built in the Thirties for the family who owned the Palace Pier, was a Brighton landmark because of its position on the main artery into the city.' I've been photographing this development, which takes up every inch of the land where the house and gardens stood.

Argus review of Nyman

Nyman does little to enhance his profile, says Karen Dugdale, who didn't enjoy the subtlety of Monday's show.


Mark Power exhibition

A system of edges. Call me old fashioned, but I'm still not sure about exhibitions of photographs in art galleries. Books is where they should be IMHO. One of the great charms of the recent Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Dean Gallery in Edinburgh was seeing his original photos, in various shapes and sizes (mostly small) and tints, alongside the magazines they were reproduced in. The accompanying new prints next door with their uniform large formats and tonal range, looked sterile in comparison. Mark Power's exhibition at the University of Brighton Gallery is a set of photos taken just off the map, one for each of the pages that fringe the edge of the A-Z Atlas of London. He's a bit of a completist - he sets himself an arbitrary systematic task, and when it is complete, like a stamp collection, so is the artwork - a past project was to document all the areas mentioned in the BBC shipping forecasts. The pictures themselves show often quirky bits of suburbia, unpeopled, and though cleverly composed lacking the wit of fellow Magnum photographer Martin Parr. As a piece of conceptual art, obvious comparisons include 'The Great Bear' by Simon Patterson, which takes Frank Pick's schematic underground map of London, with each station a 'star' be it a philosopher, footballer, scientist or actor. The A-Z atlas was covered coincidentally this week by Map Man (BBC2) Nicholas Crane, who investigated some of the spoof streets they include to protect their copyright. The underground map was covered in the last series of Map Man. (Incidentally, I once worked with Nick Crane many years ago at an architects in Gomshall called Hutton + Rostron.) The A-Z is undoubtedly an icon of London (a 2D colour-coded schematic with widened streets, flat green spaces and little else). But I do think it a little London-centric in an Iain Sinclair psychogeography sort of way, to say a trip beyond the limits of the map is 'a journey into the unknown'. Powers lives in Brighton, for goodness sake, and was born in Harpenden. But maybe it's the artspeak-bollocks-writing curator to blame? The photos themselves are OKish and some would make good postcards, though Caravan Gallery do it much better! I'd just like to see a little more effort - drawing or painting the suburbs, perhaps, like George Shaw, seen last week in the excellent The Secret of Drawing series, also on BBC2, who meticulously draws, from photos, banal suburban scenes around Nottingham nooneelse would think of recording. Don't get me wrong, I love photography, and I don't want to diss a fellow Brighton immigrant, especially now he's a Prof at Brighton university, but photography just seems too easy. Let's have some real painting and drawing on show for a change, after all there's even some (by Gillian Carnegie) in the Turner Prize this year!


Low-tide dash

Low-tide dash, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Did a completely mad thing last night - took part in the Brighton to Hove low-tide cycle dash! We gathered at Black Rock by the marina and walked our bikes down the pebbles to the exposed (just!) sand at around 6.20. It didn't look doable (some had done it before a few weeks back), I confess, but we headed off anyhow, dodging rocks, quicksand, sewage outlets (probably), surges of tide, deep water around the groynes, the lost rivers of Brighthelmstone, and later the lines of sea bass anglers. Got my feet completely soaked (and probably ruined my vegetarian shoes), and my bike was sounding very rusty, but it was great to cycle underneath the Palace (Brighton) Pier and get right up close to the collapsed part of the West Pier. I chickened out just inside the Hove border at a groyne too far, went squelching home to change socks and shoes and was late for the NUJ AGM - sorry comrades! More photos (in the dark!) on Flickr. Probably won't see you next time!


Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

I used to have a head massage to Gattaca or Carrington (it's Lemon Jelly these days) and last night's concert by Michael Nyman at the Dome was an aural massage. There was the odd thumping piece, reminiscent of his early pounding classics like The Draughtsman's Contract and Zed and Two Noughts but mostly it was how slow can you go with his recent film works from 1993 onwards: Wonderland, Diary of Anne Frank and his greatest hit, The Piano. It was as the ticket said: The Piano Sings. Like Man with the Movie Camera at the Festival Hall back in 2002, he played along to black and white films: first off a series of East End photos by Phil Maxwell, then at the end of the first half (over a backing track) to Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler's poetic Manhatta, complete with Titanic lookalike and fabulous steam engines. At the end of the second half (after songs from The Piano) we had Jean Vigo's surrealist A propos de Nice, and then a couple of encores. In between was a distracting blank blue screen (echoes of Derek Jarman?), but after the disappointment of my last Nyman outing, to Man and Boy: Dada at the Almeida last year, this was sublime. And I even got him to autograph my new CD in the Colonnade bar afterwards.


Catalyst Club

Another top 3-quid's worth at the Catalyst Club last night down the Joogleberry: a large prossie in tight corset called Letitcia talking about hiring male escorts at £250 an hour to pleasure her (or not!), some amusing anecdotes from 'Brighton's only full-time musician' and Arthur Brown's fiddler Nick Pynn (who also played with Rich Hall, Steve Harley and B*Witched!), playing not only the violin beautifully but also the Appalachian dulcimer (held together with gaffer tape) he built and 'cocolele' (made from half a coconut!) too - and Tim Pilcher, author of 'The Essential Guide To World Comics' talking about Indian comics! Plus a free CD of ape-related tunes. Shame about the 'beer'!


Ray Davies at The Dome, Brighton

An unexpected pleasure last night when Curtis Tappenden phoned me to say he had a spare ticket for Ray Davies at The Dome (a ticket I'd tried to buy, but was sold out). Seats not great for views but the sound was crisp and clear. He came on (late) after an unannounced support act without ceremony and started to sing, soon joined by a full electric band. The first half was mainly new stuff, plus songs from the Muswell Hillbillies and his 'flop cult' album The Village Green Preservation Society: 'Picture book' and 'Johnny Thunder' and the odd hint of a 'retro' session to come. In the second half, he did most of The Kinks hits, some acoustic, some electric, ending with encores of 'Lola', 'Waterloo sunset' and - with barking dog guitar (but not a patch on Dave's) - 'You Really Got Me' which got the mainly oldster audience standing and dancing in the aisles. Not as much chat as when I saw him acoustic in Edinburgh a couple of years ago, but Ray is a national treasure and long may he rock. Curt was sketching throughout! Spotted Bob Mortimer outside afterwards with mini-skirted dolly bird in kinky boots, far too young to have remembered the originals...


Sir Henry at Steyning

Sir Henry at Steyning, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End by Vivian Stanshall adapted by Nick Linfield, performed by The Orion Players at Steyning Grammar School. What an excellent night out! Paul Cemmick drove and we found it thanks to Google maps, which oddly enough didn't show the school (it doesn't show railway stations either!). After we'd worked out the system of beer tickets, met Robert Rankin, the noted author, and secured seats on the front row. Great fun: Sir Henry was just right (once he'd found the corrrect moustache) and the song and dance routines were wonderful (loved Reg Smeeton's guitar solo to a Nice and Tidy song). Lots of ukulele action, and a good smattering of Bonzo songs to sing along to including 'Hunting Tigers out in INDIAH', 'Sport (The Odd Boy)', 'Look out, there's a monster coming', 'My *partner* makes the noises for the talkies' (by Nice and Tidy), 'I'm Going To Bring A Watermelon To My Girl Tonight'... along with Viv favourites like '*Scrotum* keeps his clips on'! I don't know the Sir Henry scripts verbatim, but recognised many great lines from the radio series and film, tho strangely the one about 'If I had all the money I spent on alcohol, I'd spend it on alcohol' wasn't included (someone's going to tell me now it wasn't even in Sir Henry!). A fine tribute to the ginger English genius. Edinburgh next year? I hope so - go and see it tonight or tomorrow! More photos on Flickr - they're a bit static cos the moving ones were all blurred cos of low light!



Bill's, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Brighton changes by the day and a whole new 'cultural quarter is opening up around the new library. There's a Starbucks opposite Wagamama, now Bill's Produce Store @ The Depot - Brighton's latest foodie emporium - has opened down the road, straight from its success in Lewes. Wonder how long the Foam Shop (formerly The Red Lion) will be around?

Patrick Caulfield RIP

Patrick Caulfield was one of my favourite painters. Saw a couple of retrospectives: at the Tate and the Serpentine - every picture a gem.

Price of pint proves costly

Price of pint proves costly: "Pub goers in Sussex are paying some of the most expensive prices for a pint of beer in the UK." Too right! - I paid £3.60 for a pint of young-person's continental lager at the Fortune of War the other night when down there for a BiG meeting at Castor and Pollux! No proper beer was being offered. I'm sure they used to do Harveys...

Brighton Critical Mass

Brighton Critical Mass, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Brighton Critical Mass on 30 September 2005 approaches the Palace Pier. A bit blurred cos of low light! Around 50 people took part. More photos on Flickr.


Website wisdom

I was trying to think of the absolute cheapest and easiest way for an illustrator to have a web presence (the subject of tonight's BiG meeting). A lot of people are frightened of html and programs like Dreamweaver are daunting and over-complicated. I've been interested in the web since the earliest days of Prestel-based Micronet 800 in 1983 (using an acoustic coupler to connect a Sinclair Speccy or BBC B to a telephone handset!) and the pioneering NUJnet in 1992, when I had to dial in to Manchester (from Brighton!) using my little US Robotics Sportster 44k 'stylophone' modem. When Pavilion opened in Brighton in 1994, and offered graphical browsers (NUJnet was entirely text-based - hard to believe now), I was one of their first customers! And when Mistral offered a cheaper service, I moved to them - then to Freeserve (cos it was free!), BT Home Highway ISDN, and now ntl broadband. Someone introduced me to the once free webspace of Geocities (never the same since the Yahoo take-over) and I've had websites there ever since. The first one just comprised centred text and images on a white background (I still have sites like that!), modelled on the clean lines of Salon (which looks so cluttered in its present form) and written in html using PageSpinner to help out. I feel sorry for people starting out now, expected to learn CSS and use scary programs such as Dreamweaver. It seemed so simple back then... 1 To get a toe in the water, open a Flickr account - it’s really for photo sharing, but what’s to stop you uploading illustrations? http://www.flickr.com You’re allowed a 20 Mbyte monthly upload and 3 photosets before you have to upgrade to a paying service ($25 a year). See how other illustrators use Flickr on http://www.flickr.com/groups/35468132865@N01/pool/ NB the terms and conditions say: ‘Flickr is intended for personal use and is not a generic image hosting service. Professional or corporate uses of Flickr are prohibited.’ If you post published material, get the permission of the client or copyright holder. How much? it’s FREE! 2 Start a blog (a web log, or online diary) http://www.blogger.com/ Blogger will host it for you or you can host a blog in your own web space (see below). A nice example of an illustrator’s blog: Jago http://jagoillustration.blogspot.com/ Flickr has a ‘Blog this’ button that automatically puts images into your blog, along with a caption. To get the most out of a blog, you may have to learn a bit of html, for example this piece of code places a link in your text: Here comes a link: <a href="http://www.website_address.com/"> the link text</a>. Homework: learn about Technorati, RSS feeds and stat counters! How much? it’s FREE! 3 Create a portfolio website There are various freeish portfolio websites on the internet, but are limited in scope and appearance and usually want you to upgrade. An example is Voodoochilli, but do a Google for more. http://voodoochilli.net/about.php The most respected pay site (apart from BiG’s own!) is the AOI website http://www.theaoi.com/ How much? a self-managed portfolio of up to 20 images/animations costs £47 a year for AOI members; £60 for non-members. Your ISP (Internet Service Provider) - the company you dial into or buy broadband from – will usually give you ample free web space to host your website – check out their website for details. You can also have your site hosted somewhere else, but it’ll cost you (unless you open a free Virgin account). How much? it’s FREE! You can design your own website by learning a program such as Dreamweaver, GoLive or (for Macs) the easy-peasy wysiwyg Freeway http://www.softpress.com/en/freeway How much? $89 for the starter product. Freeway 4 Preview is a FREE fully functional time-limited version that expires on 16 October 2005. But you can also create your own portfolio site using a program such as JAlbum – a bit fiddly but you don’t need to learn any html. http://jalbum.net/index.jsp How much? it’s FREE! A typical portfolio site will consist of thumbnails (little versions of your image) which when clicked will produce a page (or pop-up window) showing a bigger version. For a neat site, make sure all your thumbnails are the same size, ie 120 x120 pixels and the big pictures are all the same width, ie 550pixels. They only need to be 72dpi, ie screen resolution. Get them ready in Photoshop, with logical names, ie potato.jpg for the big one; potato_t.jpg for the thumbnail. To upload your website from your computer to your free webspace, you’ll need an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program such as Fetch http://fetchsoftworks.com/ How much? it used to be free, but now it’s $25! 4 Get your own domain A domain name such as www.yourname.co.uk will look professional and you’ll be able to change ISPs in future without having to change your stationery every time! A domain is like a PO Box – a message goes to your domain and then gets redirected to your ‘real’ address. This works for websites and email. 123-Reg will let you manage your domain online. Beware of your domain being held to ransom by firms with hidden charges. http://123-reg.co.uk/index.shtml How Much? £6.08 for 2 years for a .co.uk domain; £21.12 for 2 years for a more desirable .com domain 5 Pay someone else to do it If you can’t be doing with all the above, pay someone to do it, but make sure you’ll be able to update your website whenever YOU want to. Tips Learn some html! You’ll need it one day. Learn about CSS (cascading style sheets) – it’s the future! Use Google to find online tutorials. Keep your website simple and accessible. No music! Avoid using Flash, unless you are a Flash animator advertising your wares. It does annoy some people! Avoid an ‘Enter site’ page, let the punters get stuck in straight away. Don’t be shy! Go for it! How to be top of the Google listings Everyone wants that! Google’s algorithm judges the popularity of a website by, amongst other things, the number of other sites that link to yours. So, be generous and link to lots of other sites, then ask them kindly to reciprocate! Homework: learn about Meta tags. Disclaimer: There are other photo sharing etc websites available, but for the sake of simplicity I have given one example of each kind of service or program. Use Google to find others.


Quornish pasty

Quornish pasty, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A Quornish pasty from Grintz -- good value at £1.30. I shall enjoy this for my tea tonight. Thanks to Peter Chrisp for the tip-off.

Giant garden spider

Giant garden spider, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

My tiny garden is full of giant spiders at the moment - busy weaving webs after the rain - I wish they would learn to eat the snails that have been demolishing my beans!


Bring Omar home

omar_1, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A demo to bring attention to Omar Deghayes, a Guantanamo Bay hunger striker with connections to Brighton, outside the Brighton Centre.

Hurst cow

Hurst cow, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A painted cow outside Hurstpierpoint College as part of the Hurst Festival. Spotted on today's Clarion bike ride.


Labour Party conference

Labour Party conference, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

The Labour Party Conference is in town (begins tomorrow) and there's a ring of steel around the Grand, Metropole and Brighton Centre. Apparently any cycles found parked nearby will be blown up! I went down the seafront to take some snaps and was 'stopped' (but not searched) and given a ticket by the Bill for taking a snap (on Flickr) of the bridge between the Metropole and Grand! The cop had a good look through my photos but luckily didn't delete any!


Waitrose vegetable pasty

Waitrose vegetable pasty, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A lovely chunky potato-based pasty from Waitrose, nicely packaged too – a bargain at £1.55.


Hall of Technical Documentation Weirdness: some odd signs and instructions from around the world. Also an example of a simple portfolio site, powered by JAlbum.


Who Ate All the Pies: Barnsley poet Ian MacMillan travelled the country to sample local varieties of pie. In the final programme, Ian visited Mousehole in Cornwall to find out why, every 23 December, the village celebrates Tom Bawcock's eve at the Ship Inn with starry-gazey pie, so-called because the heads of pilchards poke through the crust. This one is suitable for fish eaters. The fourth episode (missed it!) found him in Forfar where Bill McLaren's family has been baking Bridies since 1893. Ian investigated their origins: were they served at weddings, did someone called Bridie invent them or does Bridie refer to the shape of these broad pies? And the poet W N Herbert from Dundee introduced Ian to the infinite variety of Scottish pies, including such culinary attractions, or abominations, as the Baked Bean Pie and the Macaroni Stovie.

Northern food

northernfood1, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Lynne Truss would not be amused at this label - it could have been worse, however: Pets Peace's, for example. I did manage to pick up a big bag of black peas (maple peas, pigeon peas, parch peas) for 49p for 400/500g. More photos of black puddings, tripe etc from the world famous Bury Market on Flickr.


Blue pillar box

Blue pillar box, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Today's quiz. This is a genuine working pillar box on the streets of Manchester, but why is it blue? No photoshopping has been used on this photo!

Well, nobody got the right answer! It is a homage to the 'Air Mail' pillar boxes back in the days of yore. It's outside the Air and Space Hall of The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester's Castlefield.


Butter pie

Butter pie, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Butter pies from Bury indoor market (Redmond's?) - at 65p each! The filling is sliced potato with a hint of onion - and presumably butter. Could be improved on, but what a bargain (especially if you buy three). Also sampled a vegetable pasty from The Pasty Shop on Manchester Piccadilly station - very nice traditional Cornish pasty filling of potato and swede, but with sweetcorn instead of meat. Pastry a bit greasy. Yummy, but dear at £2.49


Embassy Court restoration: Bluestorm is inviting the people of Brighton and Hove to join residents at an event called Vive Moderne on Saturday to celebrate the completion of restoration work on Wells Coates' block of flats. Unfortunately I'll be Up North at a wedding! Yesterday, trolled along to Bona Foodie for a veggie pasty, but none were available because of the bank holiday. Made do instead with a vegetable pie from the pie shop on Baker Street (now there's a strange street full of odd shops!) - quite acceptable for 95p, despite the uninspired filling of broccoli and carrots in a tomato sauce. Served with steamed spring greens, reduced to 34p from the Co-op.


Here come the pie shops

Here come the pie shops, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Here come the pie shops. Gardner Street alone now has (or will soon have) three! First was Pokeno Pies - it seems only yesterday that the Cornish Pasty shop opened in Duke Street, now they're everywhere! One day I'll try to document the shops that come and go in the North Laine, which won't be easy since the demise of street directories like Kelly's (superseded by the phone books, I suppose?). I love pies and pasties, tho not eating meat, ones for me are hard to find. And I've never liked cheese and onion ('do I have to spell it out?'). Saisbury's used to do a lovely Savoury Pasty but it's gone now. The only place I've seen with a decent pasty is Bona Foodie in Kemp Town (and now Hove, actually). I also miss suet puddings (and faggots in gravy). I did have a gorgeous suet pud one Xmas at Terre a Terre, filled with wild mushrooms and dark gravy, a bit like this recipe. BTW went on a Clarion bike ride yesterday and ended up at a pub with a carvery! Did manage to negotiate a meat-free meal, and was treated to a plate of English over-boiled veg (but the Yorkshire pud, stuffing and roast potatoes were very welcome)!


EPIC 2014: thought-provoking film about the future of the net and the end of journalism as we know it.


Brunswick Festival

Brunswick Festival, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Popped along to the Brunswick Festival in Hove this affy to meet up with some chums down from London - didn't even know it was on! Bought some weird vegetables.


The route taken searching for the Burry Man.

Edinburgh festival

Edinburgh festival, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Just got back from a week in Auld Reekie during the festival. Highlight was seeing the last night of Fawn Again by John Shuttleworth where he sang 'Can't go back to Savoury now' amongst others in a slightly shorter show than the one I saw in Brighton (that's the Edinburgh Festival for ya!). Guess who was in the queue, standing right behind us? Jim (3-2-1 Bullseye) Bowen! So that's where he gets his jokes – there is a facial resemblence too! Also saw a preview (not the premiere) of It's nice up North, the collaboration between John and Martin Parr. Graham Fellows made a rare public appearance to introduce it, saying the DVD of the latest cut was still burning. So we got half of an old version then after much fast forwarding, the second half of a newer version.

Martin Parr was only there on 'celluloid', but I saw him in person at the National Gallery giving a free talk about his work and collections of boring postcards and Saddam Hussein watches! I asked how he got on with John Shuttleworth (no mention of the film in his talk) – he said they were great friends. Phew! That's a relief.

Another highlight was a visit to the Thermos Museum in the New Kirkgate Shopping Centre in Leith. Catch it if you can – curator Neil Davidson and his lady assistant are saving up for a tent to take it touring. Local scientist James Dewar invented the vacuum flask.

Finally we saw the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Pleasance – great heart-warming gig. Highly recommended – and there's a free badge! That swung it for me.

Also saw the Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the Dean (crowded!), the Bacon exhibition at the Modern Art museum (boring), and various other art exhibitions. Saw The Odd Couple in the Assembly Hall (not the Rooms!), with Alan Davies and Bill Bailey (and a few others!) which was much better than the critics said. Simon Munnery at the Stand was great, as usual; and Daniel Kitson was hugely entertaining (but expensive) at the Traverse with his stories for the lonely. His delivery reminded me of John Peel, and he didn't say cunt once. He must be after a radio show! The Ceasar Twins (a spin off from La Clique, which we couldn't get tickets for) were really one for the ladies – impressive but cheesy. The free comedy with Peter Buckley Hill at the Canon's Gait [or is that the Canons' Gait] can't be faulted – it's free and the beer's good – only one poor sod lost it, the others were very good (Bennett Arron and Patrick Monahan were the best two). Much better value than the Comedy Zone at the Pleasance, which we had to pay for and only 2 of the 4 comedians (Mark Oliver and Matt Green) were funny.

Low point was our fruitless search for the Burry Man at South Queensferry last Friday. Despite schlepping up and down the High Street, there was no sign and we had to run for the train at Dalmeny to catch John Shuttlworth at the Pleasance! (We also didn't see Rebus at the Oxford Bar!) Next year maybe...



Brighton Pride

pride1, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A few snaps from Brighton Pride. People kept getting in the way! Shame about the weather.

Building site graffiti shows off hip hop artists' work: "The largest collection of graffiti artists ever assembled in the UK descended on the city at the weekend as part of the Brighton Hip Hop Festival."


Woo! Yay! The new (4th) edition of my book Production for graphic designers is Book of the Month in Computer Arts magazine. Get it here.


Barratt sales centre

Barratt sales centre, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

A Des Res in Central Brighton - have you got any country cottages like yours? No, we only do flats (aka luxury apartments)!

City Point

Like those going up over there...

Hemp ice cream

Meanwhile, in the Bohemian North Laine Quarter (how many quarters can a city have? more than four?), Vegan ice 'cream' from The Hemp Shop, Gardner Street, Brighton sold from recumbent bike.


Graffiti event

graff1, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

There is some kind of graffiti event (or Graff Jam as the young people call it) going on around the new Station building site - part of the Brighton Hip Hop Festival, tho I can't find any web reference to it -- took these photos on my way home from a Clarion bike ride. More on Flickr.



Library fans' fury at bargain book sale: yes, where are all the books in our new award-winning library? I'm conviced there were more on display at the temp library at Vantage Point.


Two hills

Two hills, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

Hmm, keeping a blog up to date isn't easy! On Sunday was in the sweep van for the Capital to Coast bike ride (so didn't see many cyclists!) on a very hot day. Didn't take many photos, but here are two hills – Box Hill (below) near the start and Devil's Dyke (above) near the end.



Been wasting too much time today on this excellent game: Escape from Brighton Pier -- give it a try! Bl**min' seagulls!



seagulls, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

These are some of the blighters who stomp around on my studio roof and whose parents, I suspect, knock over and drink my milk!


Yvonne's Diary part 2 clears up the mystery why Neil Innes was so alo-ho-ho-hone supporting the Rutles on Wednesday 8 June. A great read! Looking forward to the comeback tour...


Inspirational address by Steve Jobs who never finished college to Stanford University, who says: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."


Austin I

Austin I, originally uploaded by fred pipes.

On our regular Sunday Clarion bike ride, we stopped at a pub – The Laughing Fish, Isfield –right by the Lavender Line and I couldn't resist a quick look, especially since I'd heard the toot of a steam loco. It was 0-6-0 saddle tank Austin I, built in Leeds in 1932 by Kitson & Co Ltd. I had a quick look in the sheds and spotted a Sentinel vertical boiler loco.

Make Poverty History in Brighton

Brighton's Make Poverty History demo aimed to form to a human white band around the Royal Pavilion. Well, unfortunately there weren't quite enough folk to do that, so we walked around it instead!