Step back in time…

Ok, so I should admit that I’ve just googled myself. It’s not big, it’s not clever, it’s not something I’m proud of but I’d just seen a facebook post from my cousin Iona who had cut her own fringe and it reminded me of something I’d once written about cutting my own hair with kitchen scissors.

I can remember doing it, sat in my bedroom, 39 Curtis Road, Newcastle, with its rag rolled golden walls with one brown striped wallpapered room before one wall of wallpaper was cool. I’d propped the mirror up on my desk and started cutting in some layers and hoping for the best. I did a similar thing about 2 weeks ago – my graduated bob grew out about 3 months ago and the African sun combined with bleach and repeated coverings of red hair dye had left the ends frazzled. I had wanted a professional hairdresser to fix it but couldn’t get hold of her so one Saturday afternoon, whilst avoiding doing some actual work I switched on the bathroom light, took the kitchen scissors in my hand and started to hack away. The result wasn’t that bad.

Anyway, I thought I’d put up some of the old blogs here, if only to entertain myself… (Actually, looking over them, these posts kind of fit with the Sauti za Busura update as this was the year I went to the most festivals in one summer)

Hair, June 7th 2007

‘Last night I did a silly thing. I decided to cut my fringe.

For those of you who haven’t seen it in the flesh (as it were) it was once as in my picture – a nice little side sweeping fringe, but two months without a hair cut and it was almost down to my mouth and not very sweeping at all.

Unfortunately as I have no money there was no chance of visiting a hairdresser, and with very little else to do except apply for jobs (still doing that) I took things into my own hands.

Armed with little else than a comb and pair of nail scissors, I set off. A little at first, chopping in roughly as I have seen the professionals do on so many occasions. After about 5 minutes and a once over with straighteners it was done. But it wasn’t enough for me, oh no!!!

I had the bug and a shiny new fringe doesn’t fit with lifeless un-shapely hair. So I cut some more, choppy layers around the sides to start with, just a snip here and there, but then more and more hair was piling up around my feet. I had to stop after a while because I went to see Zodiac. It’s very good. You know the murders are on the way but since I know very little about the Zodiac murders some were a bit of a shock. And it didn’t hurt that it was a combination of Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhall, Robert Downey Jr and other pretty men (albeit 70s’d up). It’s a little long for my taste but I will definitely see it again.

Back at home at midnight, back in front of the mirror thinking that a little bit should be taken off the back. Now some cuts had been difficult to make along the sides but have you ever tried cutting layers in the back of your own hair? No? Keep it that way, it’s very tricky. I had to stop at some point before I massacred my hair, so it’s a little uneven in the back, but I’m gonna go with the plan that it’s a ‘messy, choppy cut.’ Or something.

Overall it’s not bad and I’m quite pleased with it but a warning kids:

Don’t try this at home!’

Why I am rubbish… 20th June 2007

‘…because I haven’t updated anything for ages, haven’t written the Skynte blog (have planned though so that’s a start).

However I’ve not just been sat around doing nothing, oh no my friends: I have been being a grown up! I had my first job interview that I didn’t get the job for, never mind more applications have been sent in…I have (sort of) graduated. I went to the ceremony but haven’t technically graduated as I owe the library £24 that I haven’t been able to pay off. But pay day tomorrow so here’s hoping.

I’ve been working away organising the adult summer school, liaising with artists for the Mouth of the Tyne Festival and still receptioning the MEC.

I went to see Barbra Streisand and Bellowhead, both amazing in their own ways.

I went on tour and drank a lot of whisky.

I am now planning a false Eurovision party for Sat, but have forgotten to invite people so that’s tomorrow’s job.

Plus I’ve been accepted for my Masters.

Will be useful and upto date soon I promise. If not, you may … I don’t know what, but I’ll think of sommat you can do.’

The joys of August are nothing like the ides of march…. August 1st 2007

‘…and so are nothing to worry about.Well the eighth month is nearly upon us (another whole 28 mins) and my busiest time is on its way.

Tomorrow I leave for my first ever Sidmouth festival where I shall be working very hard most likely. As you may have spotted from my new picture I have edited my hair so it is now a beacon for all sorts of random people to recognise me by. Do feel free to come up and say hello. If my expression in response is one of blank amusement/confusion it’s probably because I have no idea who you are. This may well apply to both strangers and people I have known for years. Fear not – it is probably a result of bleach fumes (you don’t get hair this bright without some battle scars after all) and over work. My brain is officially frazzled after today.

So there are many gigs I am looking forward to but I shall not mention them here so I can do some undercover reviews. Thinking about it, I am not in the best position to be undercover. I am feeling very ‘Alias’ but that’s again probably due to too much marathon DVD watching. (If anyone wants to donate a region 2 DVD of series 5 I would be very grateful)

I still haven’t packed and probably should as anything I forget I won’t be able to retrieve for about 3 weeks. Bugger. Should have thought this whole thing through more. Ah well.

So yes, please leave me some nice messages, let me know what you’re up to and that sort of thing.’
Sidmouth, August 8 2007

‘Hello everyone,

Having a lovely time at Sidmouth, not too sunburnt, hair is fading and I nearly have hay fever I think but not sure.

Sorry anyone who has been trying to talk to me – have been working hard!!!

Will put up some backstage pictures and stories when I’m back up north.’

Sleepy now, August 14th 2007

‘Well Sidmouth was amazing, possibly one of the best weeks I’ve had. Made some new friends, got pissed off with old ones for being tools but all is good now. Nearly (actually probably did) made a tit out of myself whilst quite happy with whiskey.

Saw Rufus for his birthday, he was scared of the hair at first but seems to have gotten used to it. It’s now day two of Summer School and everything seems to be fine so far.

Will do a proper recap in the time between here and Towersey…’

Back up in the North, August 28th 2007

‘So August has been a month of music, swanning around, drinking, dancing, laughing, being cold, getting sunburnt, walking through cloud, swimming in the sea, making friends, possible job offers and negotiating gigs. I have spent about 2 and a half days at home and I have loved it. I have developed a cough, but I bought a pretty ring so I guess everything balances out.

After Sidmouth, I ran the Folkworks Adult Summer School which was great fun and brilliant to see so many folkies working together to produce some really inspiring music. I made some new friends, discovered the delights of Kaffa punch (maybe that’s not the way to spell it) and found out that I’m not too bad at being responsible.

So it was then back to Newcastle to prepare for Towersey for a couple of days….but no!!!!!!!!

Cathy, Ruby and I decided to go to Whitby Folk Week for the day. We managed to get a lift with Darren and Andy and off we went to Yorkshire. We managed to arrange some tickets (ta very much Messrs’ O’Callaghan and Stephenson) and went off to find the folk. Unfortunately, what with not really knowing the area or the good places to go we managed to miss quite a lot and got locked out of the session in the Conservative Club.

We found a pub with a session, I heard an accordion and a laugh and went to investigate discovered we had managed to find the pub with David Oliver in. Cathy swiped a fiddle from an unsuspecting passer by and Ruby and I left her to it and bought jewellery. We met up later for Chinese and a trip to see Graham sing at the Met. He dedicated a song to Cathy and me as students of Newcastle – Cyril Tawney’s Monday Morning. We then trundled along the sea front to the Pavilion where we were entertained by 422’s ceilidh and a floor spot from John Spiers and Jon Boden. We danced to the Haul Away set then I fell down in the excitement of Prickle Eye Bush, gaining a good knee bruise. Don’t mix whiskey, folk and dancing, it does you no good. But it is fun.

We met up with lovely Sam who offered us a floor for the night and took us to a singing session ’til late o’clock. Thank you Sam!!!!

A very long bus journey home the next day gave us little more than an afternoon to pack for Towersey…which will have to wait for another day…’

Chloe the Golden Retriever, September 8th 2007

‘I rang home today to check when I should send Mum’s birthday card and present (I do know when her birthday is but she’s going away) and Pete told me they had to have Chloe put down yesterday.

She was our first dog (we’ve since got India and Chip) and we got her when I was about ten. She was quite entertaining – she thought my brother Thomas was a smaller dog and less important than her. She had a phantom pregnancy after suckling our kittens Caffrey and Murphy (named for the beers) and decided to hide all her squeaky toys in the corner of the room and making a nest.

She also stole the bread dough that Thomas and Alex were making one day. It rose in her stomach and she was wobbling around all over the place as if she was drunk – which she actually was because the yeast was giving off alcohol fumes.

She was fluffy and malted all over the place. She smelt and dribbled all over the place. She thought she was a lap dog and tried to sit on you even though she was a heavy git. She was happy and plodded along and fololloped in the sea.

As she got older she got arthritis and was suffering from a malfunction between her brain and back legs. Mum says she’s been going downhill for the last week – barely able to walk across the road, just lying down when she was put out to pee. Her organs started shutting down. But Mum and Pete were there and cuddled her as she was put to sleep at home. They didn’t want to take her to the vet’s as it would have been too distressing for her.

I’ve not seen her much as I’ve been away from home for 4 years but I saw her about three weeks ago. She’s still my fluff head and I’ll miss her.’

Working, September 20th 2007

‘Hello everyone!

Well I have now been appointed temporary coordinator for folk projects within the learning and participation department of The Sage Gateshead. I’m still in my CST job and am now hosting School Visits (first one today, bit of a nightmare, but never mind!) and helping Jo out with some last minute things for the degree.

I’m feeling slightly schizophrenic as I’m jumping from one job to another and my brain hasn’t adjusted to having to work again yet.

Still, next week is more fun. I’m enrolling for my Masters, being a mentor for new students (folk or non folk, not sure yet) working the three Sage jobs and gallivanting off to London and Leeds to see Bellowhead. I might even get a minute to stop in on my dad and grandmother in Oxford, but have told them ot to hold their breath. Especially Gaggy – holding you’re breath at 94 isn’t really terribly good for you.

Am missing having the internet at home but am rather excited at the prospect of going to see David Tennant in Hamlet in Stratford. That’s not ’til next year but is still exciting.

I’m hoping to get some new recordings up here soon as I have realised these are about two years old and probably don’t sound much like me anymore! Plans are also afoot for a Skynte demo so keep an eye out there for more news.

It’d be lovely to hear what some of you are up to!


El x

Also, if you’re looking for a good song to walk to work with, imagining you’rein some sort of winter set film, ‘Love is a losing game’ by Amy Winehouse is very good as a soundtrack item. I predict it will be in at least one British film (or American come to that) in the next year.’

Hair again. A Cautionary Tale, Sept 27th 2007


So last time I cut my hair myself it was a great success. However this time I was perhaps a bit blaze about my previous talent and late one night started cutting away with a much larger pair of scissors than last time.

I have to say in my defence – the fringe was very good. The rest however may have appeared like a lawnmower had attacked it. So I went to the hairdresser to get it fixed. But being poor I went to a walk in salon. And she cut and chopped and shaped and the result….

Looks like a cross between a lego man and that transvestite who won the turner prize. Great. For a 23 yr old girl. Still it should me a lesson but it won’t. And it’ll grow out in a couple of weeks.’

The Joys of Further Education, October 9th 2007

‘When you have no money and decide to do a post graduate degree it may at first seem like a good idea – putting off going into the real world for a while, student discount at the cinema, hmv, that sort of thing.

Then you start and remember that you don’t get a loan or ‘free money’ as I like to think of it (yes, yes, I’m paying back eventually but until then it’s free). This causes somewhat of a quandary….try and get a job. So I did (already had one) and now I sort of have 4, sometimes 5 depending on the musician-ness (teaching, gigging, etc) This is melting my brain. And my already fragile bank balance is being rapidly depleted by printing costs of readings.

Still, am glad I’m doing it – reading is interesting. Am still perplexed by it.

And my time management skills must be through the roof at the moment…

I think I shall go and laminate something to keep me entertained…’


Folkworks Workout Weekend, dissertations and conferences, October 26th 2007

‘Well the Folkworks Workout Weekend is under way – 60 people making music and having fun in the lower levels of the Sage Gateshead.

I’ve been ill for the last week and a bit and so the preparation for this has been rather stressful, however all has come to fruition and hopefully everyone is enjoying themselves.

We have a marvellous selection of tutors – Alistair Anderson, Carolyn Robson, Stewart Hardy, Calum Stewart and Maurice Condie. The participants have come from both near – Gateshead, and far – Somerset, Northamptonshire (hooray), Manchester. And now I have to make some posters to tell them where their late night session will be taking place (The Egypt Cottage – where else is there to go for a late night folk???)

I’ve had some thoughts about what I can do for my dissertation. The whole thought of a 16,000 word dissertation does worry me slightly – the longest official academic writing I have undertaken is 3000 words. BUT a plan is in place and some of you may be able to assist me with it…

I shall be examining why folk music is side-lined in the formal education sector – how many of you were taught folk music at school? I come from a town with it’s own morris tradition, yet many of the locals know nothing about it. How are music tutors going to be able to teach children about folk music when they have no working knowledge of it?

How are organisations like Folkworks, Folk South West, Yorkshire Folk Arts, Shooting Roots etc. beginning to change this? When folk music is taught in schools, colleges and universities – how is it being taught and does this have a bearing on how it is viewed and whether people continue?

I’ve got to be careful not to overdo it as this could easily develop into a PhD. still some ideas to be going on. If any of you are teachers, music students or would just be willing to answer some questionnaires for my study please email me:

Soon I shall be off to the Folk Arts England Conference thanks to sponsorship from Newcastle University. I’m still struggling to afford the accommodation so if any of you are going and would be happy to share a twin room for the weekend that would be great and just email me.

Will write sommat funny again soon.

El x

PS PLEASE do comment if you have anything to say about folk music in education – what do you think about it?’

Ch ch Changes, November 27th 2007


To steal from the David Bowie song there have been some changes going on. Unfortunately a job that I was hoping to get didn’t materialize and since I am now properly skint (every pun intended) I have had to leave university and my Masters course.

I’m looking for full time work at the moment, with no joy so far, and then future possibilities which will mainly mean moving out of the North East. It seems quite a shame really as I have felt that it has become my home over the past four and a half years.

Still, after the first scary realisation of ‘shit, what am I going to do now?’ I think this is quite an exciting time. I’m no longer bound by a place so I can go where ever I want really.

Any suggestions?’

And that’s where I stopped because I started working with the homeless, I met my ex boyfriend and he made me feel like I shouldn’t be singing and performing. I don’t think he intended to have that affect, but he did. Which is a shame because (not to blow my own trumpet, although I frequently do) I think I wasn’t too bad at performing and here is a folky comment thread that would agree.

If you’d like a bit of a laugh, then why not take a look at the MySpace, but please bear in mind that it’s not been updated in 6 years and the music tracks are even older.

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