I’m pleased to announce that I’m doing my stand up comedy show at The Stand this August. The shows start on 5th August and continue until the 28th, with a day off on the 15th. There’s a preview show on the 4th which is bound to be a lark and the tickets for that one are cheaper, I think.
The show is called Joanna Neary: Wasp In A Cardigan and features many of my alter-egos, being charming and annoyed, sometimes simultaneously, whatever’s the most fun.
You can get tickets HERE and please feel free to bring your friends, I promise we’ll have an excellent time.
In the meantime, for virtual entertainment, for the lead up to the shows, and including the time in Edinburgh I’m doing a silly daily drawing challenge on social media for 100 days. I’ve created the hashtag #100DaysOfFringeFun so have a look if you fancy. To join in, follow me on instagram or twitter so you’ll see the daily prompt and then post your Edinburgh Fringe inspired drawing using the hashtag, so I get to see it too. Feel free to use it to share shows that you’ve seen or done in Edinburgh’s past, or have coming up this year. I’d love to see your sketches and stories.
Once we’re in Edinburgh, we’ll be organising sketch drawing groups, competitions and live drawing events, with the chance to win a commissioned portrait, to raise money for charity. More on that sooooonnnn!
Today is Day 23 and I’m going to be doing the prompt ‘Potato’ you can see the drawing later on today on instagram and twitter. I haven’t done it yet.
Saturday 7th May – solo comedy show WIFE ON EARTH Tinner’s Moon Festival, Ashburton
Sunday 8th May – children’s comedy show ‘STINKY MCFISH AND THE WORLD’S WORST WISH’ Tinner’s Moon Festival, Ashburton
Saturday 30th April –LORD GOD Robertsbridge, East Sussex.
Saturday 14th May and Sunday 15th May – WIFE ON EARTH at 5pm, The Rialto Theatre, Brighton Fringe.
Saturday 28th May – JO NEARY AND FRIENDS PRESENT COMEDY AT THE LAMB, Eastbourne.
NEW = WE ARE PUTTING SOME PAPER TICKETS BEHIND THE BAR AT THE LAMB, FOR ANYONE WHO’D PREFER THAT. OTHERWISE, TICKETS ONLINE ARE HERE, CLICK ON ME.
Our sell-out comedy night is just ace, a tiny room and a wonderful audience, Zoe Lyons said it reminded her of what she loves about doing comedy.
After a hiatus, like everyone, we’re thrilled to be back. I’ve even bought new lighting and made some weird back drops that Robin Ince compared to a Fabric Stonehenge.
Friday 27th May – WIFE ON EARTH 7.30pm At Upstairs At The Western, Leicester
Please come to these ones if you fancy, and bring everyone you meet along the way. The venues are very kindly putting on people who aren’t famous and don’t have a big machine behind them (unless you can count our nearby RNLI LifeBoat, but even then, ‘machine’ is stretching it, as is ‘nearby’). If people come along to these, I won’t look like a complete liability. I know I’ve sold tickets but the more the merrier. Thank you again in advance.
Friday 15th July – Hen And Chickens Theatre, London A double bill of Jo’s new show Wasp In A Cardigan and Ben Moor’s Who Here’s Lost?
Thank you to everyone who has already supported me, our nights and these little independent venues, it means the world, it really does. And thank you in advance to those of you who are thinking about it. Might see you soon then, come and say hello.
If you’ve recently asked for a drawing, it’s on its way. Thank you for your patience.
Just a quick one to say that we are starting up our comedy night at The Lamb Inn, High St, Eastbourne again regularly and tickets are now on sale for the first one of these, Saturday 28th May.
Massive thank you to all our brilliant audiences who have joined us for our stumble back to normality, with Robin Ince returning back in October, and Isy Suttie delighting everyone this January with her stand up and new book ‘Jane Is Trying’, it was wonderful to see so many of you back again. We will carry on keeping doors and windows open before and after the show, to help everyone feel nicely aired.
We are planning to do the show on the LAST SATURDAY OF EVERY MONTH (except August because I’m in Edinburgh and you’ll all be paddling in the sea I expect and maybe not October because that’ll be Halloween Eve and the pub might have a big costume party on, but we’ll do something that month I’m sure..)
We’re keeping numbers down still, to make everyone feel very comfortable but it does mean that booking in advance is a must. Hope to see you there!
To summarise, the line up is
Andrew O’Neill, as seen on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, brilliant stand up and author of ‘The History Of Heavy Metal’.
Mr G Reaper, AKA Death, back at the Lamb Inn by popular demand, he can be glimpsed beforehand checking his scythe in the window reflection behind the washing machine in the back room.
Jo Neary trying out new stuff, including a short play with a cast of thousands.
Dyball & Kerr wit their cavalcade of original and startling characters, including the likes of Darren and Dean, the Football Fans (And Operetta Fans) of Kemptown’s Rainbow District and other apparitions besides.
here’s what the ticket site says =
WE’RE BACK! Last Saturday of the month, kicking off this May with a wonderful line up, award-winning Occult Comedian Andrew O’Neill (Saxondale, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, author of A History Of Heavy Metal) joins the gang at The Lamb Inn for the first time. Andrew is brilliant. Anarchic, warm, hilarious, charming, just perfect for our bonkers night and we’re thrilled they can join us.
Plus the eagerly awaited return of Mr G Reaper AKA Death with his soothing words of wisdom and doom..
And as ever, regulars Dyball & Kerr with their astonishingly hilarious and recognisable character comedy based on everyone you’ve ever met in the Sussex area, and hostess Joanna Neary with her newest creations, World Premiering At The Lamb.
We are still running at a reduced capacity, to help people keep a distance and feel safe.
If it’s warm enough, we’ll keep the windows and door open, if it’s a bit breezy, we’ll pull the doors to during the show. We’ll have hand sanitiser for everyone and mask wearers are very welcome, do what feels best for you.
All acts will check they test negative for Covid before the show and as such we reserve the right to tweak the line ups accordingly, to keep everyone safe.
We’d very much appreciate you taking a test before coming out or staying away if you have symptoms, and in that case, we will give you free tickets for the next show if you have to miss this one.
Due to limited capacity, booking is essential.
Welcome back! Jo & Friends
Photo credit for Andrew O’Neill = Steve Brown
See you there, East Sussex friends!
I hope all is well with you, thank you for sticking around. I don’t think I’ve done a news update since nothing much happened last time. I’ve been cooking from scratch a lot, planning some new things for you to see, and have tidied all the paper for drawing and collage into organised boxes at long last, so new arty things will be on the way soon.
Witterings #2 = Today I went down the allotment and trod on a nail but it only stuck into my shoe. After treading on a nail, I came home and someone on instagram had sent a reply ‘Nine Inch Nails’ and I thought, well what a coincidence, experiencing a nail, and then it being followed up with a further mention of a musical outfit of imagined nails.
I can still feel where the actual nail went into my shoe but happily it only left a red mark. My foot is in shock at the thought of the nail though, it’s slightly throbbing, unpleasantly.
It all started last night, when someone posted a picture of a rock t-shirt with ‘and you could have it all, my empire of dirt’ with a mouse on a skateboard looking pleased, and immediately Will Oldham sprang to mind, and Johnny Cash singing, so I said about it. In the end (I’m cutting this short because it’s getting silly) it turned out NOT to be ‘I See A Darkness’ written by W. Oldham and covered by J. Cash but HURT covered by J. Cash and written by the Nails. Somewhere there is a venn diagram explaining all this. It’s got me in the middle looking all confused and information that everyone else knows, in either circle.
FINALLY, here are the shows I’ve got coming up this month, it’d be lovely if you’d like to come along. The London one was postponed from December so it’s going to be a Christmassy one, which will be nice. So that’s Milton Keynes, London and Farsley, Yorkshire. Plus one April Lord God show in Sussex at the end of the month. MORE IN MAY…ta ra for now!
Comedy night gigs and shows for April 2022:
Wed 13th April – Screaming Blue Murder Comedy Night, Milton Keynes. Tickets
Sat 16th April – Comedy At The Constitutional, Farsley, Leeds. Tickets
Sun 17th April – Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People – Easter Edition, King’s Place, London. Tickets
Sat 30th April – Lord God the Musical, Robertsbridge, Sussex. Tickets
This image is a doodle from my sketchbook of my family watching The Great Pottery Throw Down. It’s nice, that show, isn’t it?
Just noticed ‘nine’ appeared again, as in inch nails and lessons and carols.
Laddie was livid this morning because I wouldn’t let him have sweets for breakfast. He punched a pillow and angrily muttered words that weren’t swearing because he knows that’d be overstepping the mark. He didn’t even use the D-word.
Last week he asked if he could tell us the swear words he knows, so far. Laddie is very very interested in swearing, including all the hand gestures. Go on then, we said. He took a deep breath. ‘ I know the C-word, the F-word, the D-word and the B-word’. The D-word happily deflected from the horrifying unholy trinity of the others. ‘What’s the D-word, love?’ I asked. ‘Dick’, he said.
Yesterday, recovering from the D bombshell, Paul says we should ask him what the C-word is, in case it’s a b-list c-word like cock or clot-head and we can all breath out again.
The other day, while we sorted through his baby books, Laddie asked if he could whisper a newly found word to me, ’to see if it’s a swear’. I agreed, and immediately forgetting how to whisper, he leaned in close and he shouted ‘bastard’ into my earhole. Acknowledging that this was indeed a new weapon in the arsenal that he was presumably saving up for a diatribe on his 16th birthday, he continued contentedly looking at pictures of fluffy owls.
He certainly looked like he was thinking all the something-words after I’d forbidden breakfast sweets.
Apparently David sometimes has a whole tube of Polos in his bag at school, for no reason.
I looked at Laddie’s angry red face and relented. He could have a single Mint Imperial in his cool bag. Laddie counter-offered and asked for two. I conceded to the dear innocent fool. It’s only a matter of time before he discovers he can raise it to ten and I’ll meet him in the middle at five. He stopped punching the pillow and began twirling about on his haunches, like a tiny cossack in a school jumper. Suddenly I noticed the time. I’d already checked it quarter of an hour earlier, but not thoroughly enough. I’d looked up from my book.
‘What’s the time love?’
He stopped balancing on one crouched foot on the end of the sofa arm and jumped down to squint at the digital clock on the mantlepiece. Which by the way, had been aggressively positioned in front of my ticking one. For someone who is constantly exploring the same amplified riff for eight days at a time with only a momentary key change for relief, and all the while watching the cricket, on loud, my husband Paul is very sensitive to tiny 1960’s deceased-persons-retirement-present mechanical tappy sounds.
‘What’s the time?’
A long pause.
‘I mean 7.51’.
‘Oh, ok. That’s very different from 9.28’.
‘I got it wrong’.
‘You got it very wrong. 9.28 and 7.51? None of those digits are even the same’.
Just fourteen minutes later, it’s 8.13.
‘Love. I think it must have said 7.59’. Get your shoes and coat on, I’ll get both mints and I’ll meet you by the front door’.
Our house is very small. It’s quite hard not to be by the front door at all times, but I was injecting the thrill of jeopardy. No one wants to be even a minute late for school. The spotlight that shines down, as you walk all on your own through the quiet corridors and enter the classroom with an off-putting sense of being both a distraction and a nuisance, while brazenly breaking some law, must be powerful indeed.
A tiny stainless steel food tin has appeared next to Laddie’s lunch bag. Preparation for the Ideal Transportation of Sweet Treat Station is underway. Once outside, the mint vehicle shows its design flaws. It’s rattling about with every step like an amplified maraca.
The rhythm lulls us into a trance and our minds wander away and back again.
‘Mum, you know when a scooter is behind you?’
‘Well, when me and dad were ????’ (something so mind-bendingly specific and odd, that I was startled out of listening. Something like ‘when we were in full camo-gear on the Cuckoo Trail on September 7th 2020, heading back to the car to see if I’d left my penguin toy there before going on an expedition’)…’he had two keyring attached to his rucksack and they were making a noise, and I kept thinking there was a scooter behind me’. I realised he was musing about the minty commotion. ‘Ah, did you think your two mints were a motorbike?’ ‘I said scooter, not motorbike’. My family usually like exaggerating for comic effect, but this one’s a pedant.
It felt a bit bad, putting two sweets in his packed lunch. Time to make amends with a swift warning chat. ‘Have you brushed your teeth this morning?’ ‘Um, no’. I then make a speech so thorough and terrifying about the importance of having a full set of your own teeth and how mine was smashed out by the root when I was 9, that he slows down and looks visibly shaken. For a moment we both consider walking back home and brushing his teeth and then setting off again, but we can’t risk the Walk of Lateness. It would be a right P-word.
I call him Laddie here by the way, to protect his identity in case it was unclear. He can decide for himself if he wants to the world to know about his life when he’s older. For now, he can be my dependable fictional creation. He came up to me after school as I sat here typing this, and leant his head on my shoulder. ‘Mum? Do you know that only Americans burn in hell?’ ‘WHAT do you mean?!’ What new indoctrinating playground bants is this? ‘It’s what Jarett Kobek said’. He was reading the title of my breakfast book, which is now lying beside me.
Jo Neary is currently appearing in Lord God, a few dates are coming up in December in Brighton and the surrounding areas including Eastbourne in 2022. You can see her latest solo comedy show, Joanna Neary – Wife On Earth in Aldershot on 16th December in a double bill with excellent performer Ben Moor. Aldershot tickets available HERE.
Tickets, and books, and tickets.
Hellooooo! Welcome to all. For anyone expecting a free drawing in the post, they should be with you any day now. I hope you like them. I did two different designs in the end, I’ll write a blog about that soon.
And a big thanks to everyone who made it along to see Robin Ince at the Lamb Inn in Eastbourne in Sussex last week, what an absolute tonic it was to be there with you.
Robin did a mammoth set and wrote about it here. Before the show, Robin let me interview him about his creative process and all sorts of diversions, for Series 4 of Wife On Earth, which will be out in the New Year. In the meantime, series 1-3 is available here, and at all the usual podcasts places . For starters, here’s the Science Episode, where Robin guest stars, playing a man who sounds exactly like Brian Cox.
I’ll be doing Robin’s Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People in London this December but before that, is my new solo character comedy show in a double bill at West End Centre in Aldershot. The review in Manchester this September said ‘her physicality as she portrayed each character was wonderful.’
Would you like to come along?….
It is remarkable to me that I managed to be at Robin’s night, where his books were on sale, and still not get to buy a copy of his book. I’m hoping someone will get it me for Christmas. In the meantime, here is a photo of my current pile.
Anyone else have books dotted around the house for instant reading during small and unexpected windows of time? I’ve got two next to the bed, two on my desk, two in the bathroom, two on the dining table.. This season I am currently reading
English Traditional Customs – Christine Hole
Le petit Nicholas – Sempé-Goscinny
All In The Downs – Shirley Collins
Mathematician’s Delight – W.W Sawyer
Notes From Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Here Comes Everybody – Anthony Burgess
The Etymologicon – Mark Forsyth
True Love – Posy Simmonds
I am also reading Biggles & Co (Not pictured) as a bedtime story. It’s very funny. At one point, Biggles warns Ginger that an enemy is approaching around the walls of the castle, by singing about it to the tune of To Be A Pilgrim, safe in the knowledge that the enemy doesn’t speak English. It’s like a sketch. Bravo Capt W.E Johns, we forgive you the violence and the fact that you spectacularly fail the Bechdel test.
Christine Hole’s English Traditional Customs is so far full of fascinating bits of etymology and history and folk lore. Too much folk lore makes me feel a bit seasick for some reason, folk music has the same effect.
Le petit Nicholas is in French, I am still learning French and probably have the French reading age of an 8 year old. And the spoken skills of a new born baby. I nearly went to Paris this year but would have had to be lightly drunk for the whole time, in order to speak French with any confidence at all. The phrases that spring to mind are ‘on y va’, ‘quoi de neuf?’ ‘c’est ouf’ and ‘coucou’.
It must be awful, the English abroad at the moment (if any of them have made it through the paperwork involved and are prepared to take a chance on cancellation without notice. Everyone shouting phrases they’ve learnt on Youtube during all the lockdowns and not being to respond if they accidentally elicit a response).
Anyway, Le Petit Nicholas is hilarious and I think it’s more hilarious in French than it would be in translation. Nicholas is an innocent little boy who is surrounded by idiot friends and conceited classmates and all the adults have an awful time, all the time. I love it.
There are moments of utter beauty and tenderness, like when his parents realise that Nicholas is growing up and doesn’t need them so much anymore. Their silence puts an actual lump in the old gullet.
All in The Downs – Shirley Collins. Published by Strange Attractor who seem to curate some marvellous tomes. I’m part way in, so far she’s happily married to Ashley Hutchings from Fairport Convention, which is making me realise that my parents and Shirley Collins must have some friends in common. I will quiz them soon and find out what and who, exactly.
I loved hearing Shirley talk so simply and eloquently on Radio 4, about going to America with Alan Lomax in the 1950s and gathering songs with him and some recording equipment the size of a car. Folk music is a bit in my bones, like many people I suppose.
Humiliatingly, I used to sing folk songs at The Swan Inn in Truro when I was about 10 or 11. How utterly awful that must have been. A small child in national health glasses, with no life experience whatsoever, decides to sing about the tragedies of life, from the heart. I can only, in retrospect, apologies. I have an incriminating teenage diary from around that time, where I tried to write poetically from the meadow of Skinner’s Bottom Folk Festival in Cornwall, where Ralph Tickle-On-The-Tum McTell was headlining.
Even though I am now in my late forties, I am still not quite removed from the horro of it, enough to share it.
Maybe I’ll have a pint of Harvey’s and read from it at the next comedy night (which is 29th January 2022, with Isy Suttie and Dyball & Kerr. Isy will be signing copies of her book ‘Jane is Trying’ if anyone fancies getting a copy)
Notes From Underground – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Blimey. This is like reading the source material for so many subsequent writers. Apparently it’s the first existentialist novel and I am blown away by it. It’s witty, brilliant, shocking, what an utter treat. For anyone who’s never read him, I think Poor Folk is a really good one to start with, it was his first novel and is an exchange of letters, so very good if you have limited reading time and need to dip in and out over a course of some weeks. This book on the other hand is rather dense, and I sort of need complete silence to take it in. But who manages to find complete silence for a long enough period of time, you say. Well, gentlemen, you’re right, silence is a rare occurrence in our guitar-heavy house, which is why this one is on the dining table alongside the more bitesize and light-weight…
The Etymologican – Mark Forsyth.
I’m reading this at breakfast. It has sections about the origins of words and sayings, including everything to do with bums and passing gas, and so I save those bits for when I’m not eating. I’m such a sensitive bloom. Talking of bloom… (but we weren’t. That’s you speaking again. And these bits about who’s speaking, are a reference to the Dostoyevsky book).
Here Comes Everybody – Anthony Burgess
This is an introduction to James Joyce, and is very good, but is making me want to get back to reading Ulysses instead, which is probably the point. I do a lot of drawing and making things, so reading time is limited. I just discovered Librivox, the audio book app or website, so I can listen to the classics while carving the alphabet out of rubber stamps. It’s free but you have to find a reader who doesn’t grate. I’ve been listening to a group of volunteers reading Ulysses and it’s really rather good. But it’s hard to carve safely and concentrate so I think I’ll have to go back to my paper copy. Next year is 100 years anniversary since the publication of this novel, anyone else making the journey to Dublin for Blooms Day? If not, there’s a Blooms Day in Northampton too, that may be more achievable for some of us.
True Love – Posy Simmonds
My friend recommended Posy to me and I ignored her. I’d taken Cassandra Darke out of my local library but didn’t even read the first page before it was due back. When I was a kid we seemed to have a due back date that stretched into early adulthood. What’s changed? I know what. It’s having less time to read and too much time online. It feels like modern technology has replaced the things I love. Don’t know about you but I love
Ticking clocks with moving hands
Typewriters and carbon paper
Actual maps that you use an index with
Writing letters and all the stationery that goes with it.
Fountain pens and blotting paper
Ink and ink wells
Pencils and their sharpeners
Stereos and records and shelves of music
Your own reference library in the form of a wall of books with books that contain actual information and citations. Rather than any old plonker writing any old unproven gubbins.
Oh blah blah, string, kittens in mittens, everyone knows these are our favourite things, let’s get back to the books.
Mathematician’s Delight – W.W. Sawyer
This is a great book. I have two copies, both Pelicans’ with different covers. My dad was an astonishingly good maths teacher. He used to tell his classes that if they didn’t understand something he was saying, it meant he’d failed, and not them. The pupils could raise a hand without fear of humiliation and he’d patiently explain the thing in a different way and keep checking that it was clear enough. Having the same mathematical method explained to you in a different way is very effective. What works for one might not work for another. I could give an example but it’d turn this letter into an essay to rival the articles in the London Review Of Books.
Dad made maths learning so fun that me and my siblings used to ask to do pages of sums as a special treat. Me and my sister are still mad about maths and one of the delights of having all my shows cancelled in 2020, was that I got an opportunity to start writing about maths for Aquila Magazine. There was a call out to write about maths in a creative way, which was exactly what home schooling during lockdown had made me want to explore and work on. This is something I’d love to do in the future, if anyone with any business acumen would like to look at with me.
It’s terrible how a bad teacher can put a family off a subject for life. Everyone can do maths because there’s only one answer, you can check your answer and it’s all logical. Let me know if this statement sounds nuts to you, I’d love to know what you think. Do you love maths? Do you feel like it’s closed off to you? Apparently maths beyond GCSE is different, but I don’t know about that yet, I went to Falmouth Art College when I was 16.
Our East Sussex Comedy Night
What’s been happening? Comedy Night at the Lamb is back! Not quite regularly yet but we’re getting there. If you want to be on the mailing list, and you didn’t get the ticket links for Isy Suttie or Robin Ince, please let know and I’ll look into it. We are keeping numbers down to keep everyone safe. It’s hard operating the night and paying the acts with less than half capacity. Soooo if you feel like the shows you’ve seen were a steal (remember Joe Lycett at an early Lamb night? Tickets were £3 and £5) and you’d like to help out for future shows, you can donate an amount of your choosing for an original handmade artwork / drawing. HOORAY, free things!
Just click on the link here and send me the details that I’ll need to post your gift.
See you all in Aldershot! Hahaha
Hello you lot.
This year has been about getting back into being a theatrical-comedy horse with five different live shows packed into various suitcases and ready to go
After weeks away from home, eating too much and washing too little, all I want for Christmas is some homemade hay and a newly-plaited tail. But first…
Autumn/Winter 2021 Shows
I’m involved in three different productions for the last two months of 2021. We are doing Lord God – The Musical by Philip Reeve and Brian Mitchell for 6 nights at The Lantern Theatre in Brighton this November.
THEN Wife On Earth, my solo character comedy/stand up show in a double bill with Ben Moor’s ‘Who Here’s Lost?’ in Aldershot on December 16th 2021
and an extract of Wife On Earth for two nights at Cosmic Shamble’s Networks’ ‘Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People’ at Kings Place on December 17th and 18th.
In March 2020 Wife On Earth – The Live Show got sidelined and instead I made a film for children and recorded series 3 of my Wife On Earth Podcast. The star of the podcast (and stage show) is repressed housewife Celia Jesson, based on the leading lady in the film Brief Encounter.
I thought I’d be able to do the same show once things started up again, but things had changed in 18 months.
Celia and I had both got older. And…
We both became peri-menopausal, my character and I, both losing some of our marbles, just at the time we need them the most, and formerly-delightful Celia became possessed with an angrier incarnation.
She hadn’t wanted to change.
Celia looked nearly the same, maybe a bit porkier. But she had changed. After husband Fred took up ukulele during all the lockdowns, Celia became grumpy and angrier. Celia, a wasp in a cardigan.
I too, am generally quite angry these days. But I also find some elements of anger very funny indeed, which makes me a terrible friend. Annoyance and irritation is a particularly fine seam.
Sometimes, nay often, I am angry for no good reason except for hormones. It’s like being a teenager again, who suddenly thinks everything is stupid, until the unprovoked fury quickly dissipates and you’re left having to eat an ice-cream as miserably as possible, even though you’re inwardly delighted, to make the transition look marginally less nuts.
Oh, pretending to be normal. Here we go again. I’ve had to add bits into my show where I let off steam, to cover up the peri-menopause. There’s a section about shit audition requests for actresses. And a guide on partner’s habits, that used to be endearing and are now annoying. And a passionate celebration of teenage hormones with Morwenna Wade’s ridiculous impression of punk-era Andy Partridge out of XTC.
And another thing.
I doodled this image above with some pots of handmade ink, (Avocado stone ink and Oak Gall ink), made by my friend Thomas Barwick in Cornwall. It’s so beautiful to draw with. It looks really light at first, then it dries and gets darker and darker and changes colour. In fact, if anyone wants to get me some more for Christmas, I’m running out of both.
I’ll be bearing Programmes at the Wife On Earth Show and taking orders for bespoke drawn Greetings card designs and homemade drawing presents. I just thought of that. Feel free to remind me of it, because I will have forgotten by then.I could even do you a doodle with Thomas Barwick’s ink and a hair from a creature’s tail.
(Here are some programmes I made, I’ll be updating them for the December shows. Here is a review of this one in October to give you an idea of the double bill with Ben Moor. This programme drawing of me looking angry is by Pete Fowler, my old friend from Falmouth Art School (when it was tiny, just that site that’s a listed building and another annexe near the Jacob’s Ladder Inn, where I worked as a barmaid for years and that weird sculpture building down towards Trago’s where we did some drawing once, for some reason).
For anyone who is bored of looking at screens, here’s the box office number for West End Centre, Aldershot.
What’s in the news today?
Ukrainian Soldiers, have been officially photographed training in high heels. Maybe it’s a PR Stunt. If so, it’s a good one because everyone’s noticed. Maybe it’s saying, “look at brave these soldiers are. Notice anything in particular? Ah ha! That’s right. High heels. Brave AND useless. Unless you need to knock a hole in a balsa wood door”.
It can certainly be hard to cartwheel in them, which is why hardly anyone I know wears them. Sometimes I think designers hate people. High heels make some people feel wonderful, and that’s grand, but for me, high heels are great for being on stage in (rarely though), or standing still (posing) or lying about in. If I was going to wear high heels, I’d make myself a matching t-shirt that reads ‘For Display Purposes Only’ and not leave the house.
It seems a bit stymying to make the soldiers parade in something less comfortable than paraboots, which is what the opposition will be wearing. And actually, the opposition win on fashion counts too, because comfy boots are back, apparently. Grunge 2. I saw it in Brighton, England this week.
Let’s talk about Grunge 1 (the 1990s)
In the actual 1990’s, young people who shopped in jumble sales and charity shops and hardware stores didn’t know they were ‘grunge’ until The Clothes Show had J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr on as a guest.
As we watched, bored, someone used the word for the first time, and showed us Mascis’s clashing second hand ‘grunge’ clothes that we were all also wearing and we all went ‘oh, is that what I am then? I thought I was just poor’.
Shortly after this, UK music magazine The NME released their definitive poster guide of ‘Grunge Bands’ which included Led Zeppelin and Daniel Johnston, together in the same category at last.
Up until then, young people were either ‘fashionable’, ravers, metallers, hippies, rockers, mods, goths, teddies, beatniks, glam rockers, crusties, punks, pop culture or straight-edge. Everyone else was a colourful magpie mess.
Mens workbooks (no name industrial ones, or Doc Marten’s if you had £25, at least they’d last for nearly two years, worn solidly). Mine were dunlop, steel toe capped and one size too big but they were also £6 and virtually indestructible. In the end I just got rid of them because I really did look like an actual clown.
Checked lumberjack shirts were warm and unisex, and about a fiver.
Tiny 1970s t-shirts with anything written on them. (I’m pretty sure I saw the previously deeply common and uncool Harvey Wallbanger cocktail recipe on someone and my friend Alison had a vintage one with ‘Elastic’ written on it, that Justine Frischmann from Elastica asked to buy off her. Alison said no). Or we painted our own (with watered down acrylic paint).
Dresses from any era as long as they were very very cheap (1910 – 1980, all secondhand or made in India and bought from the market for £15 brand new). The huge ones were good for hiding both your figure and the rape alarm you were sold at the fresher’s ball, where you’d also be signed up for a ‘self defence course’, in case of enemy attack.
Of course, the steel toe cap boots could deliver a crippling blow, which I think is one of the first things the ladies were taught. It was all the rage.
The dresses weren’t particularly flattering but that wasn’t the point. they were cheap and individual and if you really wanted to show some shape, you could take the hem up by a foot and a half and cinch in the top of it by cramming on a too-small long-sleeved cropped cardigan, to create the allusion of a waist but without flaunting your wares like a cake shop window.
Courtney Love (the band Hole) popularised wearing the see-through nylon nightie on the cover of Face magazine around that time, which was pleasing. Because nylon nighties were very easy to find in perfect condition in junk shops and went for a song, being deeply unpleasant to wear as actual nightshirts. They were worn with cycling shorts, massive underwear, cardigans, fishnets, boots and ribbon-y necklaces.
It was all very DIY. It was like an anti-statement really. Look how little I have but how happy I am, haha! Those babydoll dresses were almost as indestructible as Dunlop workers boots, unless you stood next to a naked flame.
And at least we were sold see through nighties by a brilliant rocker instead of some boring old fart designer who’d not be seen dead in one.
It was amusing to see wealthy-looking people wearing GRUNGE in Brighton, UK this week. The main giveaway were luxury designer bags and sunglasses but the rest was heart-warmingly familiar. The dresses are still hideous, except now they’re 50000% times more expensive and you’ll see them being worn by more than one person at any one time. Now the high-street dresses are chosen for their fabric and cut, rather than being the only viable option at the jumble sale. The young people look gorgeous because they are. Hobnail boots and a dress that would be rejected by your great-aunt aren’t going to stop them looking excellent.
And at least they can be in complete comfort. Either sitting around or running or walking or pirouetting about, whatever they fancy (the dresses are great for twirling). They can cover up or reveal as much as you like, which for a painfully shy and body-conscious-in-a-bad-way teenager like I was, is ideal. For once, a fashion fad that made me smirk, is actually a very welcome return. And bonus ball, you don’t have to iron anything, freeing up moshing time for The Happy Flowers and Swans. Or if that NME poster guide was anything to go by; ‘anything vaguely good’.
I love sketchbooks and draw every day. This is a little doodled sequence from an A6 one, which I always carry when I’m out and about.
Have you seen ‘Hook’? We quite enjoyed it. I thought the message to make the most of the young years was a good one. Cast were ace too.
Rambles On Re-use, Re-cycle, Repair
I’ve always been interested in the history of clothes, the concept of ‘style’ and anthropology, but you wouldn’t know it to look at me. I just like reading about it and looking at other people.
When I was a kid, I collected books like ‘Christian Dior’s Little Dictionary of Fashion’ and ‘Here’s Looking at You Miss Teen’. At such an impressionable age, these outdated books gave me a skewed idea of what it was to be a teenager in the modern world. While everyone else was joy riding, hitch hiking, and skate boarding, I was reading about how to clean your kid gloves with white bread, creating a limited palette wardrobe and what that will do for your world (make it perfect) and practising how to remove a cardigan at a soirée, in one graceful swooping move.
The books contrasted beautifully with how I live my life. I’d lie about eating crackers and cheese, reading about how lying upside down on an ironing board will give you rosy cheeks, and never actually doing the things they suggest. Once I wrote the alphabet in the air with my toes, to improve the shape of my ankles but it was pretty much done with equal amounts of curiosity and sarcasm. The books look hilarious at first glance, but you get sucked in to believing that this is a world of bite-size, achievable and rewarding tasks and should be taken seriously. I’ve never been able to make much comedy out of them to be frank, I love them too much. I’d have to give it all to another persona – maybe Mrs Coil (see Wife On Earth podcast if you haven’t met that character yet! She stars in series 3).
These days I watch style and fashion youtubers in a semi-horrified fascination, as they spend hours on regimes while I drink red wine instead, sitting atop a nest of un-mended mending.
Here’s a dilemma. Skanky shoes.
These shoes might be for the chop.
(apologies if you find them revolting🌺👀💃🏽)
1. When is something worn out?
2. When does a pair of shoes or a garment reach the end of it’s life?
3. Is it ok to look GRUNGE or wear something one size too big when you’re 20’s but not in your 40’s?
4. Says who?
5. With so much stuff in the world, can I warrant getting rid of shoes I’ve worn for six years or is it ok to look ‘neglected’ for work at (for instance) a Nathan-Barley-like office in Soho for a swanky acting job? Or is it disrespectful to look scruffy when you’re looking or doing work?
6. What do you think about ‘age appropriate’?
7. What do you think about getting a uniform and just wearing that, à la Zuckerberg / TS Eliot / Bill Gates, freeing up time for other stuff?
One of these pairs (green, £45 2015) has a hole in. I tell myself that means I can wear them when it’s not raining. The other (gold, 2017? Not quite sure) are a men’s size which means they are too big so I wear them with massive trousers so just the clown toes show) i.e I am really good at justifying keeping things.
Why on earth have Adidas started making men’s and women’s trainers? They do a men’s size 6 which is a women’s 6.3. What the?! Grr.
I am genuinely struggling with how much stuff we’re meant to own / how to pass it on in a sustainable way / if my time is well spent in endless mending and cleaning. So far the solution has been to keep nearly EVERYTHING. I still have clothes I wore when I was 12.
When we were students we had one thing at a time. One pair of shoes. When they wore out and were actively agonising to wear, we were forced to admit defeat and fork out for the next pair. We weren’t targeted with spending all the time though.
A Mending Book
And here is a mending book I love and (below) a 1920’s silk coat that I’ve had since I was 16 and now it’s shredded. Can I throw it away? Can I %&$£. No, I am hoping to either a) use the coat to remake a copy, as a pattern. (It’s a beautiful shape). and b) use the original collar, cuffs and button as they’re intact. I just cannot throw stuff away. The battle with the world’s Kondo, Minimalist, and Anti-Hoarder continues apace. What about you? What’s your criteria for keeping something? Have you got into mending? If so, do you think the trend for mending is universal this time? Not just women and wives? I’d love to know what you think. The philosophy and anthropology surrounding this is constantly fascinating to me. I might have to put my ridiculous book collection at the heart of series 4 of Wife On Earth. Maybe I’ll try what the books suggest… gulp.
How much stuff do we even need? I don’t think the holes in my trainers are mendable. So for now I’ll carry on wearing the gold ones with wide trousers to cover up the fact they’re too long, and the green fabric ones when it’s not raining. End of training triggered ramble. More soon! What shall we look at next? Maybe knitting jewels.