creation, my shit

solfest 2016

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There was shit all over the bedroom. Leads and clothes and blankets and plates and im a fucking useless messy fuck. I cant stand things being put away. It confuses me. So this is why I spread everything all over my house like some mad spoilt child. A tidy room will last no longer than a minute after I enter it. I don’t see the mess. Unless someone points it out. But I was now buried up to my waist in crap and nothing was ready. I was burning the backing tracks on to CD for tonights show, and trying to pack for a weekend of gigs in the Lake District with my fave party crew in the land, Lost & Found.

I dragged my sacks of shit down the stairs, including a bag of drum breakables, kindly borrowed to me by Torrie of The Crypt Jam room in splott. We had just spent two weeks jamming in his studio. I had planned to buy a kit. But I had run out of money that I had stashed from France. We piled into the packed car. Me, Shag, Pestis and Gogo. And off we fucked to the north of england….

The TeddyBears blasted all the way up. The boys were stoned out of their boxes, or did they always go into this amount of detail? They also seemed to know every single line of every film we talked about. I cant remember fuck all. I watch game of thrones and the next day people are describing what happened and im thinking did it? I don’t rememebr shit. I seem to not posses a memory. Mates rant about fucked up adventures of times past and I literally have no recollection. Did I fry my brain with all the naughtiness I fed it in my youth? Or maybe i use different parts of the mind. Or maybe I was born without a memory.  I read books manically. And ok, sometimes I hit an epiphanical breakthrough which changes the shape of my psyche, but as far as recalling anything ive read…. zero.. So I politely ignored the conversations and drifted off into my weird place. Neither here in the car nor anywhere else in particular… just kind of in a day dream of nothingness.

We pulled up on the road about 10 minutes from the festival. Pestis had been toeing it up the motorway and his driving was spot on. But now we had hit the lanes and his 3 passengers were all crying and varying shades of grey. I was ready to Ralph. We parked up and I, walking round in circles, I spotted Shags skinny legs in cheerleader socks as he hung over a gate, blowing chunks into a cows field.

Damien welcomed us to the festy and I set up my tent, borrowed from my flat mate, nextt to Shag and his long mate, Nick The photographers. My tent was covered in a pretty pattern of butterflies and heath, bright purple and pink. Within 4 mintues all the shit I had scraped off my bedroom floor was now spread around the tent. It stunk and I couldn’t find fuck all. Home!

Darkness descended and the glittery lights and muffled throb of soundsystems brought out the ravers in force.
I was struggling with the hi-hat clutch. the soundman looked on baffled as me and shag both tried to put the kit together.
“But, arent you the drummer?” he asked.
“Um, yeah, but ive never set up a kit before. I been playing 10 days”
He then set it all up as I headed backstage. Dj slipped disc had turned up in red despite us all agreeing that no colours were to be worn on stage . he was also saying he didn’t want to play the backing tracks on the CDj as requested. I didnt want them imported as mp3s, or played from the dodgy laptop drive, or connected to the system through a £1 lead. Nerves were high, Shag and The Wraith were on the verge of sickness while jabz seemed chilled in his poncho, and Flakira was, despite her debut dance at afestivalonly being a short while ago, one of the most relaxed amongst us.

I had no idea what was going to happen but was already regretting not putting in a few live shows locally before our first ever festival performance. We had tried to play Cardiffs Gwdihw a few nights previous but the idea had fallen apart moments before our stage time, due to lack of interest from, well, anyone, and logistics, lack of drum kit….. etc.

It was time to let fate do with us as she pleased. We were in the hands of the gods now

We kicked off with the The Grey Woman, an unreleased tune featuring The Wraith who paced nervously in a black hood until she sang inaudibly due to shit monitoring / festival soundchecks. Pestis took to the stage in his nighty looking like he had just escaped from the secure unit… Flakira winded her hips and Jabz and Shag rocked it hard. It seemed to be working… I was drumming on time (ISH),  I planned to come out of the headphone socket of Slipped Dic’s CDJ but the booth was the other side of the tent. :/ This was confusing as no one could see how the music was coming out of the speakers. Defo needed him on stage…

During my practice sessions, the previous fortnight, I had caught myself drifting off and having to correct my timing. A space cadet,  hmmm Crumpets. or going into stories, or negative spirals…its become a habit over my lifetime. And what I love about drumming is how you cannot leave NOW, and you learn to stay present. This is Buddhism 101….. this is the loudest meditation in the fucking world. This is THE NOW -the very place where happiness resides! Let’s get enlightened..

After having to correct myself on stage i was convinced it was the track and not  me. I ran through the crowd over to the dj booth to discover Slipped Disc had sneakily set up his laptop through a cheap lead and was playing the backing tracks from his laptop CD Drive!!!!!
YOURE PLAYING THROUGHT THE UFKCIN LAPTOP CD DRIVE?A?A??A
YES!!!!
THANKS. ITS JUMPING LIKE FUCK OUT HERE ON EVERY TRACK!!
NO IT AINT!
YES IT FUICKING IS, IM TRYING TO DRUM TO IT!!!!!
NO IT ISNT….
IT FUCKKING IS!!!!

I sat back on the kit and screamed YOURE FUCKING SACKED!!!  we plodded through the set. Which was in totally the wrong order due to the cd not displaying track names. So no one knew when their song was on, and I was drumming to a jumping backing track..  It was like a bad school play with people coming on and off looking confused and not knowing what they were doing.

At the end of Paramatma the boys done the outro so out of tune and dragged it out so long that people seemed to be falling asleep in the front row. Then the extra long intro from Music Like Dirt droned on, with it being an instrumental,no one had anything to do on stage, so they all left, along with about 80% of our audience……I  drummed along solo on stage. At the end there were two audience members left. We had cleared the entire fuckin tent. Result!

We had to remember we were doing this for ourselves. Not to try and impress others. This was always the rule. So, in having two people left we had in some way failed.

One was a man who, on studying the video footage after, appears not to move a muscle for the entire performance, just peering on looking completely baffled. Next to him is another chap in a cap, who is completely losing his shit to us. He gets it! And he’s the only fucker in the north of england that does. He danced like a maniac, whooping and flailing his limbs for the entire set.

Backstage we congratulated ourselves for getting through it and enjoyed the strange absence of any feedback from anyone in the vicinity. A telling sign that no one knew what the fuck it was. We had confused everyone. And had a great time doing it. I can only thank Damien of Lost n Found for taking a chance on us… here is a short clip of Dark Angel at our first ever gig as Clusterfuck……………………… 360 view (drag the screen around to look around the tent!)

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I joined Flakey in the Funk tent, a goth in a funk tent! Amazing… I went off and danced to wonky house and then headed up the Cottage where I danced to drumn bass til the wee hours. Everyone was off their tits and seemed about 12, I was like a Dad age. When did this happen. Did they all think look at this dad trying to rave with us kids? The records seemed to be pitched up to the max as the tiny venue went ballistic to jungle and DnB I had a jig but then some young ones with those weird kid n play style hairdos and big selfie machines started swarming so I fucked off to my tent. As I laid down all the music on the festival site was turned off. 4am. Ahhhhhhhhhhh perfect timing I thought and then laid there til midday listening to a generator which was parked the other side of the hedge. Drove me fuckin insane.  It may have been the nerves too, because in my stress in learning how to drum over the last fortnight, since my return from france, I had completely neglected the fact I was playing Sunday night at solfest as Flapsandwich…

I ran round the site putting my usb into peoples devices collecting any flapsandwich songs people had with them and then exported a few things from Ableton I had been working on, most notably a new collaboration with Cosmo…. I made a fat playlist in my tent and bing! I was ready to go. My nerves never settled once during the entire day and I headed off for a nervous poo. This weird phenomena I remember happening the first time I played in The Lion in Chepstow when I was 17. I was stuck in the bog with a churning gut and the runs. And now at the age of 39 it hadnt got better. And I still had 12hours til I was on…

9 poos later….
A taxi was parked up near the entrance and two sharp men with cases looked completely out of place, the smaller one had an ACID logo on his top. Hardfloor, had to be. They looked like scientists. In a way they are. I went over and told them how much I loved them and made a complete tit of myself. Never phased by famous people usually, I fell apart and was like a teenage Beleiber. I bowed to them and said I love you and said mahogony roots was the best song in the world and then bowed again and walked off awkwardly.

An hour later they were eating soup back stage, and there was a empty seat between them. ~So I sat in it. It was really awkward. They slurped their soup, really seriously and I just sat there trying to think of something to say.
Good Soup? I offered.
Good soup. came the robotic germanic reply from the smaller guy as the big one ignored me.

At Loungevity  I bumped into Lindsey who used to run the trailer trash tent at beatherder. She had seen Clusterfuck the night before. She said it was Goth as fuck and said it would suit their new tent at beatherder! (yes please, my fave fest of the year for many years). I went back to her van, met some of her crew and chatted about music. She said how lost people were when sicknote ended.

On the chalkboard outside Lost N Found Tent: HARDFLOOR. and then me, after hardfloor. I got to the front of the tent and danced with the pregnant girl, who was having contractions while stomping around like a warrior in the dust. What do i dfo of the baby comes? Dont worry she said theres a tent out back ill nip in there.

Hardfloor took the crowd to ecstasy, everyone sweaty and rejoicing. . They dropped Mahogony Roots! The trailer trash crew turned up and and we had a stomp together, one of the guys said he loved the clusterfuck gig last night, and could see the potential in it, ‘but you need to find something to do on stage, you are not a drummer. Get a real drummer.’; fucker. He’s right. But im loving it so much!! Fuck it I will drum! And I will get better! I aint playing the fuckin mouse again… no chance…

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1.30 I took to the booth and played a little set to wrap up an amazin weekend in the lake district once more… thanks to every one who made it happen.

Heres my set…. free download..

https://soundcloud.com/flapsandwich/solfest-2016

‘The true artist has no public; he works for the sheer joy of it, with an element of playfulness, of casualness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make’ – Bruce Lee

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beat the music industry, creation, life, my shit

becoming a drummer. day 1.

I packed my rucksack, had a big arsed brekky, exported the rest of the instrumentals and headed off out into the sun.

I walked through town with a bounce in my step. I was feeling good. I had a focus now. Getting back from france last week I hit a rocky bottom immediately. The food and the sun and the good living had come to an end. The morning after landing I found myself in tesco, surrounded by nutrition free lumps of corpse wrapped in plastic. And pesticide laced identical looking vegetables; Gone were the wonky misshapen, beautiful fruits that nature seemed to squeeze out with pleasure. I could no longer pluck them from the vine, still warm from the sun as they squelched their organic goodness directly into my blood stream.

Now, I could unwrap an avocado from Kenya, which had  been force fed chemicals and forced to grow in a factory then shrink wrapped,. stuck on a truck, then a plane. Then a truck, then a warehouse, then another truck and now I was stood in front of it feeling sorry for the poor bastard. There was no goodness left init. They may as well print one out on a 3d printer. And it had probably been injected with something to make it last. When I was picking veg from the potage in france if I didn’t eat it immediatley then with in two days or so it had gone soggy and disgusting. But tesco’s finest veg was probably plucked weeks ago and it still looked unripe. suspicious.

I walked around the strip lighted cube of shrink-wrapped death.
I left. I hid under my duvet for 2 days. The grey poured through my window. The view a derelict building covered in pigeon shit. The smell Subway Meatballs pumping out of a silver chimney. to the left outside of my window a glass panel was still boarded up and the smell of death hung in the air. my neighbour had fallen through it to her death a year ago. I read some Marcus Aurelius. No amount of Stoicism could fend off this paradise hangover.

I ignored all texts and calls.

Is this my reality? Is this the reality I have chosen for myself. A shithole housing association flat. Is this where I want to be as I approach 40? Alone, unloved and unloving, in my pit.

I looked around., half the room was piled full of crap. I didn’t want any of it, but yet couldn’t throw any of it.  The other half of my room contained my studio which I had just set up. 2 large yamaha speakers a consellation prize for 9 years of hard work in my previous band, before we lost a bandmate and it all crumbled to nothing. And the brain of the studio was a mac mini, a computer that used to belong to a friend who died of alcohol related problems. All my leads were crammed into a box which i inherited from my mate’s dead dad’s workshop. A vinyl record of my old defunct band hung on the wall shot to pieces with a gun. sicknote: the johnny no-cash remix. Behind where my exflat mate’s head board used to be there was a wide mass of fading grey / black drips all down to the skirting board. One wall featured a big orangey brown stain about face height that also spread out and dripped downward to about knee height. The place stunk. Lots of holes and cracking plasterboard and big stains and shit on the smelly carpet.

Why am I such a messy cunt.

Surrounded by death and grey.

Luckily I had no time for much musings. I had a deadline. A live gig in 10 days for a project I had never taken live. We had created a collection of songs last winter in the bigger room, when I was set up in there. We released it as an album and a few people got off on it. Not that many. Then we got a booking last month. I flew back from France. And if it wasn’t for the gig I don’t think I would have.

So I snapped out of the gloom over the course of 6 icecreams and a huge dose of Montaigne.

I cleaned the room bit by bit over a day or 3. I met a few friends in cafes and drank tea and talked shit.

Then today I headed down to the crypt: a local rehearsal space for the community. I was presented with a present from my band mate and good mate, Pestis. My first set of drum sticks. Buzzing my tits off. I set up the Crypt’s drum kit. in completely the wrong way. discarding the kick and bringing a tom, snare, crash and the bottom of a hi hat all to about waist height. I stood there surrounded by my new friends. Fuck playing the mouse. Lets GO…..

But,.Could I play?

Dj Slipped Disc Jocky clicked the tunes into motion. Pestis grabbed his 50s style ribbon mic and started to strut his stuff. Flakey adorned her silver waist jewels and began to rotate her hips.

And I smashed the holy fuck out of the drum kit, completely out of time, all over the fucking place, with not a single fucking care in the world.

I will never play a mouse on stage again as long as I live. And i may never fill a pot with compost again….
Who knows whats next…

But for now………………………….

Let the clusterfuck commence.

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camino, creation, life, my shit

19 Mistakes I made Publishing my First Book

Many people are self publishing these days. Aside from the Success stories of 50 shades of Grey, The Martian and a few others, is it possible to actually make a living from this?

I say NO! At least not until you have published many titles and have a solid fan base. My book has received positive feedback from anyone who has read it which is lovely but it has failed to spread into the world and make me rich!

Here, are the mistakes i think i made in publishing my first book.

  1. I failed to generate any reviews from any media. Aside from one review from a friends news site, I failed to get the book into the hands of the people who could have got the word out there.
  2. The content of the book was spread out over a measly 84 pages, much of which were illustrations.Was there enough literary content to make an impact strong enough to engage the reader to recommend it?
  3. I gave away approximately 50 copies of the book to people I thought may scream about it. I received a few private messages with feedback on the book, which done nothing to promote the book!
  4. I priced the book too low, at just £5, the profit was only £1.40 per book and therefore it was impossible to make enough to pay the contributors and make it profitable. (see point 20)
  5. My writing style was very messy. It was my first book and with little experience felt I was yet to find my voice. Luckily I had a friend who was an editor who made the whole thing make sense before we went to print.
  6. The spine on the book failed to print, and I only learned later that the minimum page count for spine printing is 130 pages. The book can never be recognised on a shelf, and looks more like a pamphlet from that angle.
  7. A team comprising of Welsh author, Welsh illustrator, Welsh graphic designer and Welsh editor then relied on an American company to manufacture and deliver the product. Shame we couldn’t complete the whole thing locally.
  8. I failed to get the book into any stockists or reviewers in Portugal or Spain where the events of the story took place. Or in Wales, the living place of the author.
  9. I failed to mention the Camino in the title of the book which has made it impossible to market it to people who are keen walkers or are familiar with the Camino de Santiago. I would definitely re-title the book to appeal to these people, as i am yet to sell one book to actual Camino walkers!
  10. The Web address that I printed on the inside cover is a dead link. I need to build a website.
  11. I did not arm my early adopters with the tools to spread the word about the book, and only gathered a few Amazon reviews. If they liked it, I just prayed they would recommend it, but a more solid plan could have helped it spread.
  12. The author should, as recommended by successful self-publishers, have a follow-up book within 3-4 months to keep the buzz going and build momentum. I am writing, but i dont have a book. I just have pages and pages of nonsensical rants with absolutely no thread – Brain Farts. (Now there’s a book idea!)
  13. We made the book paperback only, forcing physical copies of my work into the world, as real books are my preference. I now think it would have made more sense to release the Kindle and other E-book versions simultaneously, as many people read this way, the price is much lower and the profit MUCH bigger.
  14. Making my 1st book illustrated, although beautiful, made the whole process much more difficult, as we had many problems with formatting. Also it made the task of creating an e-book version much more difficult and contributed to the decision to postpone it.
  15. Having so many people involved in the book, unpaid, also extended the time frame as I was reliant on people for favours who had other more important things going on (ie. Paid work!)
  16. I had little capital to invest in marketing or promotion and compared to a publisher’s marketing clout my marketing plans were pathetic.
  17. Contacts in the world of publishing were minimal as I am a music producer. This means it was difficult to acquire advice or experience in this world. I failed to reach out to many people who had done it successfully. (Apart from Sue at Starships & Aliens and Derec at Opening Chapter – Thank You!)
  18. No Pre Promo, no buzz built, No launch party – locally or online, again just a facebook post on day of release. I relied solely on social media for promotion.
  19. I walked 200 miles, wrote 15,000 words and untold hours were spent by various friends editing, formatting, designing and illustrating the book. All in all making it a labour intensive project which has so far only netted approximately £300. Take away the cost of the free copies and i have so far made about £200. And i haven’t paid any contributors to the book!  Was it worth it?

 

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your first book in print, and i would highly recommend it! When i ripped open the box and first cradled it like my first born, i squealed and popped like cheap bacon in my new tefal titanium pan.
The book is getting great reviews on Amazon and it has inspired a fewfriends to change things in their life and has made others laugh. Surely effecting people is more important than MONEY?

Huge thanks to everyone who has read it and had the time to share their thoughts or recommend it.

If you don’t have a copy yet, some Amazon sellers have now completely devalued my art, and for some reason you can grab a copy for £3.01, here!

massive thanks to Norris Nuvo, Laure Lajarthe, Paul Bevan, Cai Hughes and Eleanor Burns.

 

 

 

‘PAIN? It makes you more spiritual!’
-Thomaas the Astronomer

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camino, creation, life

Switzerland Day 3: Abort Mission

I woke up late and had completely missed the concert, the whole reason why I had flew to Switzerland. I drew a large JP on my map. The bottom end of the curl of the J started at a very large church and it curled up across a river and up along it’s bank, where the arc of the P curled seemed to be the easterly suburbs of the town. It was cold and raining. I entered the church. It was very dark with long strips of stained glass allowing strips of dust to dance diagonally over me. I walked down the centre aisle, some woman happily filmed me coming down on her ipad. I walked past her cursing under my breath. I walked to the back of the church to behind the alter. Up some steps and into a small raised section that seemed to trap the sound of the organ magnificently.
The organ was a huge collection of pipes raised on a platform in the roof at the opposite end of the church. The guy playing it was obviously practicing and was stopping and starting. It sounded very solemn and he barley changed notes. The reverberating bass of the organ shook my cold body. I wondered why I was here. Was I running away from my problems again?

I found a door for the tower. I seen people hanging out of it before I entered and there must be an amazing view of the city up there.
“Groups only,” said a chap on a near by desk.
“But it’s only me,” I replied.
“We cant allow it sorry.”
“But I am traveling alone, can’t I go up?”
“I am sorry Sir, I can’t allow you to go alone, you will have to find someone to climb it with,” said the man, looking back down to his papers.
“Why is that?” I asked.
There was a silence. He slowly rolled his eyes up, without moving his head, until they met mine
“Suicide.”
The word seemed to echo into nothing as he held my stare. I smiled and walked back out into the freezing cold rain.

Around the back of the church a distressed dog barked like a demented bear from the tease of it’s young owner. I looked over a wall. Why am I here? Basel. Oh yeh, I came to see a concert, get some space from my life and try to make a decision on a job offer in France this summer. To keep following the JP that I had penned over my map I would have to cross the wild gushing brown river far below. I climb down a few hundred steps and met a small tugboat at the riverbank. I threw the grimacing man a couple of Francs as the boat rocked wildly, I think he would have been happy with a Fisherman’s Friend, or a cwtch. He invited me into the cabin where a lovely fire burner crackled and a single solitary candle flickered. A couple joined us and the guy, the older of the two, constantly took photos of her and him, with the captain, and together, and on the deck and holding the steering stick. People just love photos of themselves, what’s the point I grumbled to myself pushing my hobbit feet further under the burner.

The boat spat us out on the other side of the river, where I zipped up my puffa jacket (90s chic) and walked into the spray and mist of the relentless Swiss winter smudge. I followed the stem of my J up the river bank for about 20 minutes. I was getting pretty wet now. I got to the second bridge and crossed over it to complete the left hand side of the hat of my J. Symbolism. What’s the point? I got this from Bill Drummond. One of my heroes. Right now I was thinking the guy must be fucking nuts. I was in a very nasty part of town, called St Johann. My stage name. Serendipity. It was empty. Who in their right mind would be out in this weather. Blocks of flats. Graffiti. ‘Fuck the police.’ Piles of bin bags. I walked to the far left corner of where the J ended on my map and there was an Anatomy Museum. I needed to get dry.
A young lump hunched inside a kiosk, frantically whacking his smart phone with his fat hands, covered in a large black cloak. He sensed a wet figure up ahead and paused his Candyflaps. He looked up towards me, his triple chin wobbled to a stand still, an emo hairdo gripped onto his acned round face. Five crooked tiny yellow teeth poked through his lips as he began his customer service routine.

“Ein a Klein a Kleng a Eeeben Skwelch en Stein”
“Sorry, English?”
“We Close in 20 minutes, I am sorry.”
“I see. Could I just have a quick look around? I have come a long way and didn’t realise you closed so soon.”
He looked me up and down. He must have felt for the rain-soaked marmoset that dripped on his tiled floor.
“Ok, I won’t charge you but at 4pm you will have to leave,” and he unpaused his game and the 8 bit music beeped out once more as he began slapping the machine again.
“Thank you sir.”
I squeaked my way across the shiny floor into a sterile room filled with large glass tanks. Each tank was filled with jars, bottles and smaller tanks. Mainly these smaller glass containers seemed to be housing some pretty freaky looking things. Anatomy, yes. But real body parts, preserved in formaldahyde? Isn’t that what they call it. Many young kids no older than 6 or 7 were quizzically studying, like old professors, dismembered organs, penises, eyes, throats and brains. I felt a  little feint.

I turned around after casually gazing at an arsehole in a wedding ring box and was confronted with the top half of a bloke, floating in an old rectangular tank. He appeared to be of a similar build and age to me, but it was hard to gage this as his head was missing. I was only judging it by counting the wrinkles on his bent old penis that was pushed against the glass. His skin was yellowing and creased, like an out of date pickled artichoke. His entire front section from collarbone to belly button had been cut open and the skin discarded, so we could see all of his organs. I could follow his entire digestive tract and wondered what his last meal was, and then how he died and where his head, legs and front skin had gone. I walked on. Next was a lady’s vagina. Just there in a jar. It looked wrong and rotting. Next up was a large cabinet of fetuses. They were in ascending order of age by weeks. I worked along the cabinet looking at the development of the human in the womb. Two girls, smartly dressed, were taking selfies with some of the dead fetuses. I worked my way up to 10 weeks. The age of my baby when we decided to terminate him.

A hard lump formed in my chest. I couldn’t breathe. He had fingers. And tiny closed eyes.
I flashed back to the year 2000. We were in a dirty gloomy room with the rustle of leaves and a smattering of broken light outside. My partner had to take some medication and wait. I’m not sure if something was put up inside her too. I don’t remember, the whole thing now seems like a dream in my mind, a nightmare. The events of that afternoon have haunted me ever since. She was in pain. Lying in the bed, holding her stomach. The entire pregnancy and termination was a secret. No one knew, I was 23 and didn’t want a kid and didn’t want my parents to know. I felt like if I had a baby my life would have been over. I begged her not to have it. She said if I showed one incline to wanting it she would keep it. I was a selfish cunt. I couldn’t imagine fatherhood. I was young and stupid and scared out of my mind. I didn’t think of her or my baby that was nestled up inside her warm womb, awaiting to meet us. All I thought of was myself. And I wanted freedom. No responsibility. I didn’t want this. This wasn’t the plan. We were fuck ups! In debt. Always off our faces on wine or ecstasy. Arguing and fighting. I cried. And she decided not to have it. I don’t know why I reacted like this. And I have been trying to forgive myself ever since.
So I was pacing around the room as my beloved laid doubled up in pain. The nurse came in and checked her a few times. After a few hours we headed into the little bathroom on the side of the bedroom, I placed a cardboard pan over the toilet and held her hand. A tear streamed down her cheek. A small amount of watery yellow blood exerted from her into the pan followed by a click. Something small. We looked and there it was. Our son. Our son we had just killed. He was as tiny as a thumbnail. Helpless and unloved. Murdered though selfishness. The worst dad in the world. The shock of seeing the fetus made us gasp and hold our mouths in silent despair. This image will never leave me, and neither will the ever building guilt that stemmed from my actions. I am Pro Choice, but if we give young people the choice, they need to be fully aware of the emotional and psychological long term effects it may have on them. Saying that, I know some people who have had an abortion and never let it bother them ever again. Maybe I am just a hypersensitive freak.
I honestly don’t remember what happened next. I think we called someone. And she went back into the bed. I do remember what I said next though. And this is probably the worst thing anyone could have ever said. The most heartless thing. I sat next to her and held her hand, and genuinely believed I was being helpful.
“Okay, now that’s sorted all we have to do know is pay off our debt and we can be happy again.”
Now, re-read that. The words of a sociopath. A Heartless cunt? But in my mind all that I wanted was the happiness of my love, and us to be the most sorted couple in the world, I genuinely thought I was doing the right thing in trying to sort everything out this way. I was playing God. What the fuck was I thinking. I had always said I would never abort up to that point. But when the time had come. Crunch time. Your chance to stick to your principles and show the world your integrity, I crumbled. I was the weakest and the most hypocritical. I felt I hadn’t started living and so took a life and caused untold pain to a poor innocent beautiful 21 year old girl. I turned her into a murderer. For my benefit.
I said no. Fuck you nature. We doing things my way.

And now I was stood there looking at a similar fetus in a glass box. Fingers. I could see it was a human. I fought back the tears. The guilt enveloped me. I felt like a cunt. A murderer of my own blood, and not the protector I should have been. My throat now jammed with that sharp dry lump. Had I killed my baby all those years ago so I could have freedom to come to a city and draw my initials in a map and walk around in the cold rain? For what? Surely life is about connection with other humans. I felt so alone. I thought of my ex with her husband and three kids in her home now. I wondered what they were doing. All sat around hugging on the sofa. And I was here. On my own. Cold and surrounded by cold dead body parts. I had got what I wanted. Freedom. And it was ugly. I followed the jars of fetuses up to the new born baby. And then I left. I aborted my JP map mission and escaped the rain. A small cafe offered warmth and hot tea. I got my pad out and wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Escaping my thoughts. Or at least processing them was vital now. I felt on the edge. The more I wrote the better I felt. The pain of my younger self’s decisions slowly evaporated as the pages filled. I flew home that night. Fuck traveling. I’m too skint and too many things to sort. Need to stop running and face some things. My flat was a disaster. Shit everywhere. No self respect. I threw my wet bag into the corner and dived into my unmade bed.

Then the dream came back.

I had a repetitive dream between 2002 and 2005/6. It would be most nights back then. It was terrifying. It would not go away. It would involve a dead body. And me as potential murderer / accomplice or at least me hiding the details of the incident. The body was usually buried. And I knew where. And I knew what happened. My state of mind was in turmoil as I was trying to keep it a secret, and praying no one would find out. This dream must have happened well over a hundred times. I would wake up and for ten minutes I would try and work out what I was going to do about this situation, and I would be petrified, and slowly it would dawn on me that it wasn’t real and I would feel a huge relief that I wasn’t about to get imprisoned and then get on with my day.

Mother’s day one year I decided to cycle over to my Mam’s house about 15 or so miles away and had ended up on the grounds of the hospital while on my way, I had phoned my Ex, and I don’t remember why, we occasionally chatted over the years after we had split. We were chatting away, it may have been Mother’s Day in 2005 or 6 or something. I suddenly realised I was outside the window, directly where we had committed the offense. I dropped the phone. I cried. A man passing by asked if I was ok. This was in real life. I was in tears, I cycled to my Mam and fell onto the sofa and slipped into the dream, and this was the final time I dreamed that dream, it resolved itself…. The body had been found. I had been caught. The police had found a ring on a finger poking out of the muddy grass where we had buried the young woman (this time). The body had been exhumed and I had admitted my part in it and I was being arrested. I woke up and felt a huge sense of relief that I no longer needed to keep this secret. I never dreamed the dream again. Ten years passed.

It had been a weird weekend in Basel, Switzerland and I was tired and glad of my own bed. The heating clicked on, the noise of the traffic melted and the smelly quilt disappeared from beneath my nose. I was on the mountain behind the house I grew up in, in the Welsh valleys, rusty cold shovel in hand. The pylon wires buzzed above us and a single crow crossed the moody sky. Me and my big brother were patting down a mound of earth in the rain. And he was saying to me that no one can ever find out about this. This is our secret. Never ever say a word. Forever. That was it. The old dream, it was back after a decade. It didn’t resolve either. Same details, different scenario, as it always was. I woke up. I laid there. And stared at the ceiling. And I wondered how we were going to get away with it.

 

 

 

If you want to read more of my travels then grab a copy of my first book for a fiver, here. Thanks.
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creation, other people's shit

struggling

“Take risks. Don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t ask permission. But be prepared to suffer the consequences of your actions. Don’t blame others. Don’t expect success – not even after you’re dead. Remember, to get one good artist you need to have at least a thousand others struggling in their garrets. If you or I are one of those struggling ones, we’re still doing our jobs.”

-Bill Drummond, KLF

 

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from Bill Drummond’s 10 commandments of art.

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creation, life, my shit

618 miles – Lost and Found at Solfest

After 2 days of head ache trying to hire a car, which is usually straight forward and CHEAP, we gave up. They hiked the prices up for bank holiday, the capitalist cunts. My manager told me to get on the fucking train or i was going to miss the gig tonight. It worked out well as it gave me SEVEN hours to work on the set on my way up. But it cost a ridiculous 147 quid, fucking ouch.

After gliding past the beautiful Lake District i got off the train in a tiny village called Aspatria. In the darkness a car rumbled up to me. Through the misty headlights a ginger beard reached out and shook my hand.

“Flaps! Chris. I met you at The Pizza Club in Carlisle a few years ago.”

We sped through the dark country lanes, a ginger baby piped up from the back seat, and started chatting away. He clearly had better social skills than me.

We pulled into the backstage area of the fest and there was a geezer who looked familiar stood outside my window on his phone..

“Flaps?”

“Oui” i replied.

He hugged me and passed me the phone.

“Alright sexy tits?” said my manager.

“Squeeky Cheeks!”

“Aye, good timing. All good?”

“Yeah, safe. Arrived in good shape. Chat later.”

“Safe.”

Damian welcomed me and walked me round the back stage and various smiley faces hugged me and then i was whisked off to a little field where i squeezed my half-a-man tent up.

I headed down to the Lost and Found stage where i was to be playing later. Paul Hartnoll rocked it hard with his new stuff followed by some Orbital classics, including the sublime ‘Belfast’. Great set, i was starting to get a bit nervous as i knew i was on about and hour after him…

I headed back stage and slumped into a big comfy chair where more smiley people offered me plenty of goodies. Tea was all that was required so i was plyed with it, and then i found myself side stage ready to go. I was about to throne myself with the sheep hat which i normally sell as a day job. But bottled it last minute.

So weird without a band to hide behind…. but this is how it is for now… Flaps centre stage……

I kicked off with The Untouchables theme tune, and very slowly built to a stompin bouncy set. The crowd were shaking their arses. Half way thru a geezer with one leg drove his huge disability scooter in and parted the crowd and pulled up real close to the stage. He sat there bopping his head grinning from lug to lug for the rest of the set.

I finished up with ‘A Series of Fuck Offs’, my Sleaford Mods Remix, followed by The English National Anthem which nearly got me lynched before slamming in the re-rub i done of the Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save The Queen’. All good. Slipped off stage and there was a roar of approval. You know the Score.. Quimcore!

I spent the rest of night mosying about and chatting to random people. Josephina Ballerina was a familiar face and we hung out. The smiley legend Monk gave me a bear hug and there were lots more friendly faces.

Went to check The Skints out. Weren’t sure. Then outside the tent i seen some guy on the floor foaming at the mouth. He was lying against the fence and was struggling. I called a steward over and she looked completely freaked out and ran off to find help. I went off and bought some water, when i got back there were now 2 stewards standing about 3 metres away from the collapsed guy, shining a torch on him. I crouched down and give the poor fucker some water and walked off luckily bumping into some medics and pointing them in that direction.

I ended up in Loungevity, the worlds largest Chill Out tent. With the more sofas than DFS. I chilled and chatted and danced and despite being completely on my own felt quite relaxed. This was peculiar. I was socialising. Shit! The very thing i’m famous for not being very good at! What the fecks goin on here? I dont know if it was Solfest, or The North… whichever, i loved interacting with these folk. A welcomed stranger in a strange land.

I slipped off to my half-man tent about 6am with a hot chocolate and dreamed of weird naked skinny bald cats crawling into my tent. hundreds of them. All veiny and pink. Filling my tent. With me underneath them all. Arrrgh!!!!!!

I climbed out of my hobbit hole about midday. I planned heading home today. But the sun was belting. The tunes were throbbing. The vibe was buzzing and I was feeling good. In the Healing Fields i got chatting to some cool ladies from North Wales. We spoke for ages about energy and potions. They told me they had seen my set and loved it and they told me in welsh i was BRetthau Fflap, two Fs coz one f is a V in welsh. A fast repetitive drum from the tent next door was starting to get on my tits.

“What the hells that racquet?” i asked.

“Shamanic drumming, it sends you somewhere. Its amazing.”

“Really? Not sure i could deal with that. Could you ask them to keep it down a bit?”

Shortly after the drumming stopped and a little round red lady with blonde hair joined us. She wrinknled at the eyes and had a tiny smile.

“You have been depleted.” she sqeeked, “Someone has taken energy from you, and you were unable to get it back. I can help you restore to your old self with out hurting or affecting the person who has wronged you. An Energy Retrieval.”

Woah. That struck a chord.

“Ok. I’m in. Just gonna run for a pee, back in 5.” I said.

A huge head dress of Black feathers brushed back over her head exposing her beady eyes as she emerged from the smokey tent. Was this the same person?

“What have you come as?” I asked

“I am the Raven. Enter.” she squeaked.
The Lady Mutant Shaman Raven laid me down and began to dance around the tent barking jibberish into the air. She picked up the drum and began to bang it all over the place and then finally directly over my head. Fast repetitive single bangs, four to the floor, probably about144bpm.  Then she started chanting again and calling people from all sides of the earth. The only line i made out was:

“And to the spirits of the South, and the Turkeys and the Whales and the Bears!”

Wtf. She then picked up a large chain of wooden beads and rattled them all over my body. And then sat me up. She made a funnel with her hand and blew through her beak onto my shoulders, arms, groin, knees, feet and finally head. Then she started to chat some more and then lied silently next to me.

We breathed. And waited.

“Yes” she said, to who I know not.

She stood and then hit the holy shit out of the drum one last time.

“Open your eyes when you are ready,” she said, “I have a message from your spirits. I can’t explain what it means, I can only tell you what they said and hope it means something to you. It is this, ‘For Success in your work, you must Paint, and Play with your ideas.'”

“Um, ok thanks, what did my spirits look like?” I asked

“I can only see my spirits, I evoked them and asked them to speak to yours, and this is what they told me to tell you. They also told me to say that you should take the form of The Porcupine.”

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“Right. Ok. Um”

I slipped a few quid into her pot and sat outside on a deck chair and started to put my big boots back on. She sat next to me and we chatted about the various meanings it could have. She told me to go eat something and relax. She said I may feel different in the coming days.

I went and bought a fat pizza and strolled back to my tent. I laid there with the flap open looking into the clouds, munching away.

A cold air sneaked up and bit my love handle. Eek. I opened my eyes. It was night. Soundsystems throbbed around me and the light of the full moon shone into my tent exposing my half uneaten pizza on my chest. My feet hung out of my tent. Checked the phone, 8.5 hours had passed and I hadn’t moved a muscle. Just completely conked out. What the fuck did that shamen do to me! I scoffed the remainder of my cold pizza and headed into the night. I felt amazing.

I floated all over the festival in my sheep hat. Met loads of people many of whom recognised me from the Sicknote days, and Beatherder and Thimbleberry and an unfeasible amount of people who remembered me from The Pizza Caf gig in Carlisle organized by the legend Pat Sav.

I headed to the open mic tent wear they sang an excellent rendition of Abba’s ‘Porterloo’ and a brilliant version of Madonna’s ‘Like A Pigeon’.

I scoffed more food, drank more tea and danced the night away, banging set from Gella and Jinx. Got chatting to oddballs and freaks and lovely folk. And a lovely young lady on a zimer frame with the voice of a peedo. Teetotality is the weirdest fuckin drug ive ever taken i can tell thee.

Sunday i headed out into another sunny day. Blagged my way onto the decks at a lovely little cafe called the Beatroute with thanks to a top chap called Niles. They were happy for a DJ to take care of the tunes and kept me watered with green tea as i spun an eclectic chilled set. About an hour and a half in I started kickin it up and a few people danced and many chilled outside and lots of people were coming over saying they were loving the tunes… nothing mental just lots of people chilling in the sun. One of the bar girls come over and was saying she was really enjoying the tunes. Nice vibes!

A 7ft dreadlock suddenly appeared behind me and started lecturing me on how i was playing the wrong songs and volume for the tent and what was I doing. He took hold of the master knob and cranked it down to bearly audible. I said my thanks to the people who let me play and headed out into the sun. A few geezers who had been blowing massive bubbles with the kids outside came over and they had been loving the tunes and recognised me from Thimblberry, the most legendary and debauched of all the festivals from a few years back.

Not long after i found The Cottage, which Tania the Mutant Fairy recommended to me last night as a good place to play a set. A welcoming cottage front door led into a tiny dark tent. Tosh the boss told me to get on and left me to it. I slammed out the tunes and a large lady span around the place sweating, totally having it. Luckily she left before she collapsed. A nice couple came in and had a bop for half hour, then left. Then i was playin to no one.. cant say i blamed them. On a sunny day like this who in their right mind would wanna be cramped up in a hot dark tent with a hobbit playing techno at them? Then a couple came in with a little podgy baby who seemed to be loving the tune. The dad held him stood on his lap and he danced for the rest of my set with a massive gummy grin, staring straight at me with his sparkling big blue eyes. Defo Flapsandwich’s youngest fan! Respek little man!

Back at Lost n Found i bounced until i could no more in particular loved the set from a Tim Toil. nice.

12 hour kip in my tiny tent. woke up to more blistering sun…..  The views of the mountains and sea blew my mind and i packed my shit up and just lay there. I went back stage and thanked Damian for one of my fave gigs of the year. An amazing festival, awesome stage, banging PA, lovely people, well looked after and I’m missing it already.

Massive respect to Lost & Found. See you all soon

Flaps.

Get the full set on CD here….

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creation, my shit, other people's shit

COSBOCOLYPSE!

 

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had THE most productive January of all time! Finished up 9 tunes, including new tunes for heavy new ANGRY TECHNO METAL project (soon to be revealed), new Ninjah single, recorded an insane band from West Wales who i think is the weirdest shit i have ever recorded, a couple of new Flapsandwich Remixes, chill-out tune for new project Lost Radikals and more!!! ooof. what a month. buzzing. will reveal shit soon. also teamed up with the excellent Adam Shipp for this little tune and vid. I am the Walrus. Coo Coo Ca Choo

http://youtu.be/dcmfZW7djgg

 

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