Sunday, 31 July 2011


My partner in crime and crime fighting and I spent the weekend in Oxford with my friend Ali. As old friends reuniting for the first time in too long, indulgences were key - perhaps the sweetest of these was a night of watching Gainsbourg followed by a late night/early morning of covering and recording Serge Gainsbourg songs. (See the last post's cover of La Javanaise.)

Below is a second (I think both funnier and better) cover of La Javanaise, and a version of L'Anamour - a word in french which I have yet to find an English translation for. I'll keep you posted if I do. For the moment I'm enjoying its mystery.

Immersing myself in Serge Gainsbourg songs outside of London with some of my favourite people was probably the perfect way to spend the weekend between last week's bus tours and next week's Edinburgh preparations.

For the curious - recordings below. L'Anamour was recorded well after 5am. It kind of sounds how my weekend felt, naive, pleasant and a little bit melancholy. (With possibly slightly too much reverb?) In any case, it makes me smile.

L'anamour by Lilliput and the Bear

La Javanaise (sha la la) by Lilliput and the Bear

Saturday, 30 July 2011

La Javanaise

I feel similar to the first time I tried being a vegetarian then forgot and ate a piece of chicken two days in.

On the third day I have had a slip-up in my every day posting challenge. However. It does not mean that the challenge is not worthwhile (in fact more worthwhile since I've proved my fallibility so early on) and doesn't deserve to be pursued, despite my slip up.

And so, to apologise to those challenge Gods for my early transgression, Liliput and I have decided I should sing you a song. He is on guitar.

Lilliput and the Bear- La Javanaise by Lilliput

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Zero Hour Bus Tours - Greg McLaren and Abigail Conway

Wow. I can't believe I'm actually doing this. But I figure when you set yourself a challenge - say the challenge of writing a daily blog entry late at night during the busiest month of your year - the first few days are the hardest, and most important, time to come through. So here we are. Day two of my monthly blog writing challenge, and day four (the final day) of the Zero Hour Bus Tours. I finally have my post-midnight hours back to sleep and watch episodes of cancelled American sitcoms.

Tonight was the first time I had experienced Greg and Abi's pieces. Because of the bizarre nature of a late night bus tour complete with the dedication of late night volunteer performers dress runs were sparse. But it seemed fitting that on the final night of the tours I was able to actually get on the buses, and all told it was an important, bewildering and pretty exciting experience.

In total contrast to Abigail's piece, a quiet and meditative longing for sunlight, a melancholy top deck bus ride for tourists, Greg's piece made us complicit in what other passengers must have thought was a flash mob - which gave me, as one of the privileged few wearing headphones, a thrill, while I made contact with the other audience members wearing their gas masks. And mobile phones held by the young and slightly drunk Chelsea kids on their ways home filmed and photographed every minute. But past their future youtube plans, none of the passengers interfered, and of course as Greg had all of the audience members holding tupperwares full of toast and wearing latex gloves, we were part of the spectacle they stared at silently, entirely bemused. What was so nice about this reaction was that it seemed to reinforce Greg's conceit - that London is a cold place full of a remote distance from humanity which is clearest on the tube. But of course when we watched these quiet teens exit then from the window saw them burst out laughing and start pointing as soon as they'd left, you realised that past being utterly weirded out, maybe they just hadn't wanted to spoil it. Gawd I would have loved to have been one of the people who stumbled onto that bus with no sense of what was happening or why.

I really wanted to type "It's been a wild ride" and then rolled my eyes at myself. Which is no small feat. But goodnight bus tours. See you round the bend.

(See I quite like that one.)

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Zero Hour Bus Tours - Kim Noble and Hannah Nicklin

So as only some of you probably know, for the last little while Forest Fringe have been planning The Zero Hour Bus Tours, theatre pieces that take place on the N11 night bus between Chelsea and Liverpool Street Station. We commissioned Kim Noble, Hannah Nicklin, Abigail Conway and Greg McLaren to each create a tour that imagined London as a post-apocalyptic landscape. I'll admit that the post-apocalyptic thing was not my idea, and actually I had felt a little apprehensive that the experiences might get a bit "samey" - but one of many things I've learned from producing on this project is that the more specific you get with commissions, the more diverse pieces can turn out to be.

Maybe every human alive has a completely different and totally unique take on the apocalypse. Certainly the four artists who have been commissioned have created remarkably unique experiences - each different from the last, and each tinged with that artist's own preoccupations and fears. It's quite amazing, really.

Tonight was the last outing with Hannah Nicklin's and Kim Noble's respective dystopias - and there was something very satisfying about watching two people in party hats run breathless and beaming across the road from one bus stop to the next, knowing that after wearing a mask and cleaning in public, becoming sexually aroused by a computerized voice, being stalked by a series of mysterious horses and affixing a sign to the front window of the top deck, on the next bus they would be spoken to softly, still frames of memories creeping up on them which their heart would desperately continue to hunt for long after they'd disappeared.

What has been strange, sad and invigorating about the pieces is the number of no-shows. As the pieces were quite limited capacity tickets sold out quickly, but the tickets were free and so of course the real commitment or investment in the show is not in booking your ticket but in showing up for a piece of theatre that takes place on a bus after midnight. I say this is invigorating because the people who have come are remarkably dedicated and open minded audiences. And there is something wonderful about all of the trouble that's been gone to for two people in headphones to marvel out the window of a bus and experience in safety what we all hope/fear will happen on night buses anyway - something heightened, bizarre and possibly random.

I hope we get a good turn out tomorrow night for Abigail Conway and Greg McLaren's respective pieces. Those with the dedication to come have, as one passenger and writer put it, "tuned into a different frequency". But check in with me tomorrow night (the 1 month challenge!) and let's see how 3am Debbie feels then. This particular 3am Debbie is pretty happy with the whole thing, unbelievably proud of the artists, and grateful for Intransit's forward thinking programming. Like many late night adventures, these night bus tours are unbelievably impractical and laced with an elicit magic. I'm so grateful that we were given the chance to let such brilliant artists loose on a bus route. The N11 will never be the same.

It's Challenge Time!

Alright Blog. It's been a while. I realise that. And I'm here to remedy it. I have decided that since it is now the most difficult time of year to write to you every day for the next month, that's exactly what I'm going to do. Write to you every day for the next month. Which will bring us right to August 28th, which is the last day of Forest Fringe's Edinburgh Programme. Oh the fun we shall have! Expect late night frustration, half-drunk-half-tired meaderings, and honest appraisals of what I'm thinking/excited about.

And of course, take into account that these will often be written well after midnight.

Monday, 4 July 2011

A poem (to remind you you're here)

Common Magic
by Bronwen Wallace

Your best friend falls in love
and her brain turns to water.
You can watch her lips move,
making the customary sounds,
but you can see they're merely
words, flimsy as bubbles rising
from some golden sea where she
swims sleek and exotic as a mermaid.

It's always like that.
You stop for lunch in a crowded
restaurant and the waitress floats
toward you. You can tell she doesn't care
whether you have the baked or french-fried
and you wonder if your voice comes
in bubbles too.

It's not just women either. Or love
for that matter. The old man
across from you on the bus holds
a young child on his knee; he is singing
to her and his voice is a small boy
turning somersaults in the green
country of his blood.
It's only when the driver calls his stop
that he emerges into this puzzle
of brick and tiny hedges. Only then
you notice in his shaking hands, his need
of the child to guide him home.

All over the city
you move in your own seasons
through the season of others: old women, faces
clawed by weather you can't feel
clack dry tongues at passersby
while adolescents seethe
in their glassy atmospheres of anger.

In the parks, the children
are alien life-forms, rooted
in the galaxies they've grown through
to get here. Their games weave
the interface and their laughter
tickles that part of your brain where smells
are hidden and the nuzzling textures of things.

It's a wonder that anything gets done
at all: a mechanic flails
at the muffler of your car
through whatever storm he's trapped inside
and the mailman stares at numbers
from the haze of a distant summer.

Yet somehow letters arrive and buses
remember their routes. Banks balance.
Mangoes ripen on the supermarket shelves.
Everyone manages. You gulp the thin air
of this planet as if it were the only
one you knew. Even the earth you're
standing on seems solid enough.
It's always the chance word, unthinking
gesture that unlocks the face before you.
Reveals the intricate countries
deep within the eyes. The hidden
lives, like sudden miracles,
that breathe there.