troubled diva  
 

My freelance writing can now be found at mikeatkinson.wordpress.com.
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On Thursday September 17th, I danced on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square.
Click here to watch, and here to listen.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So, Mr.Gormley, we meet again...

It's a shame about the Nasty Little Notices (none of which were deemed necessary at Trafalgar Square) - but let that not detract from the joy of encountering the great man's work for the second time in under 48 hours.

This was taken at the fourth annual "Beyond Limits" exhibition at Chatsworth House, as curated by Sotheby's. More photos to follow... along with The Great Plinth Write-Up, which couldn't be done today owing to a) oversleep, b) my fourth major cultural event since Thursday evening, and c) an "early doors" which turned into a dinner date (my dears, the venison chops were SUBLIME).

Shoddy, I know. But who reads this stuff on Saturdays, anyway?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pointy fingers and Jazz Hands.

On the basis that a picture paints a thousand words, and mindful of the fact that the thousand words are going to have to wait until tomorrow...




(Honestly, I had NO IDEA that I did the "pointy fingers" thing. We live and learn.)

Thanks to everyone who came along to Trafalgar Square, or who watched the proceedings via the web stream, and also to everyone who has left so many lovely comments in various places.

In short: I had THE MOST FANTASTIC, AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, elevating, elating, transformative experience. I'll try and expand on that tomorrow!

In the meantime: here's the archived footage, which should be watched in tandem with the streaming audio mix.



Word to the wise: if you find (as I did) that the audio mix lags slightly behind the video stream, just pause and immediately un-pause the video stream. And can I also draw your attention to the green square with the white square inside, to the bottom right of the video window? If you press it, then you'll get a full-screen version of the video.

If you'd rather not watch the full hour - and really, that's absolutely fine - then can I suggest that you fast-forward to the final minute, which contains an unplanned moment of pure Comedy Gold.

K's photos of the event can be found in slideshow form here, or as individual photos here.

My friend Angus has taken some truly fantastic shots, which can be found here. Click on "slideshow", and then click on "fast".

I also enjoyed Caroline's photos, turnesoleil's photos and videos, Luca's photos, and the shots of asta grooving along at home.

More words and fewer pictures tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

The plinthing hour approaches...

...and, inevitably, the stomach butterflies have started. Looking at today's schedule, I'm sandwiched between "anonymous_137" and "Henri", about whom little is known. Thanks to all of you who have blogged and tweeted about the event, and to those who have left pledges and comments on my profile, and to everybody who will be coming along to the square or watching the live stream at 6pm. I'll try to make you proud!

Although I intend to have The Most Fun Ever, I'm also - underneath it all - deadly serious about all of this, from an "artistic" standpoint. I've put a lot of thought into the song choices, many of which have strong personal associations and resonances. It's a controlled experiment: an attempt to channel an emotion and share an experience. It might work exactly as intended, or it might work in ways that I hadn't expected, or it might not work at all. Only one way to find out, eh?

I'll be officially offline from lunchtime until Friday evening, aside from occasional quick peeks via K's Blackberry. K is coming with me, and he'll be on official "where are we up to in the mix?" duty in the Square - so if you're arriving later than 6pm, he'll be happy to show you where to catch up.

Hooray for Art! Hooray for Dancing! Hooray for Making a Twerp of Yourself In Public!
I'll see you on the other side.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It's not on the mix...

...but in just under 24 hours' time, I shall be aiming to channel the spirit of these fine young ladies.



(You think I jest?)

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Mike on the plinth: the bare essentials, summarised.

(This is for the benefit of less regular visitors to this site. Everyone else can skip it, if they're already up to speed.)

THE BARE ESSENTIALS.

I'll be dancing on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, tomorrow (Thursday) between 6pm and 7pm (UK time), as part of Antony Gormley's "One & Other" project.

If you'd like to dance along with me - whether in the square itself, or sitting in front of the live web stream - then you'll need a copy of my specially compiled mix.

(That's because I'm doing the whole thing on headphones, not loud speakers.)

Here's a link to the mix: tinyurl.com/plinthmix. You can either stream it from the web, or download it to your MP3 player.

Here's a link to the live video stream, direct from Trafalgar Square: www.oneandother.co.uk.

At the start of my allotted hour, I'll count you all down like this: "THREE - TWO - ONE - GO!" As soon as I say GO, press play on your copy of the mix.

(Technical note: I recommend having the mix cued up and paused, then starting it with the pause button. That way, there's less of a time lag.)

At the end of the hour, we'll be going for a drink in The Ship and Shovell, 1-3 Craven Passage, WC2N 5PH. Here's a map. It's about three minutes' walk away. Do please come and join us.

OTHER, LESS ESSENTIAL STUFF.

Why am I dancing? Here's an explanation.

Would you like more waffle with that? Here's a longer explanation.

Here's the Facebook event page. If you're able to attend - in person or via the web - then please add your name to the guest list.

And if you're otherwise engaged on the day, then the whole thing will be archived here.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Plinther with a one-track mind.

Since there's no point pretending that anything else is going on inside my head this week, here is today's Plinth Bulletin.

BONG. WARDROBE CRISIS SOLVED.

Until this morning, I had still been toying with the "smart suit" option. Then I remembered this T-shirt, buried in the unironed laundry pile (albeit a negative image thereof, with white graphics on a black background):



(Did I ever mention, back when Troubled Diva was a byword for grisly TMI, that precipitous altitude has always made my testicles tingle, in a way that makes me feel like they're about to liquify? Well, now you know. Is it just me who suffers from this unlikely side-effect, or is it a recognised syndrome, like sneezing when you think about sex?)

(Um, I also do this. Shall we move on?)

BONG. POST-PLINTH DRINKING VENUE ANNOUNCED.

Sourcing a pub where my 68 year-old mother and my "edgy", "directional" London friends will feel equally at home, in an busy area of town, at a busy time of day, has been a challenge - but I think I've found somewhere that will do nicely.

The Ship & Shovell (one amusingly slipped consonant in front of my mother, and I'm a dead man) is situated at 1-3 Craven Passage, WC2N 5PH. It can be reached by turning down Craven Street (to the right of the Strand before you get to Charing Cross), and then hanging a left down a narrow alleyway. A couple of steps beyond the pub, and you'd be underneath the Arches below Charing Cross station (and in close proximity to a venue called "Heaven", whatever that might be).

Here's a map, and here are some photos. Note that there are two bars: one on either side of the alley. We'll be in the larger bar. It doesn't serve food in the evenings, but the beer looks good.

BONG. LIST OF ATTENDEES CONTINUES TO GROW.

As I've been going through the inevitable "nervous host before cocktail party" phase, it's most comforting to hear from friends, readers, colleagues and relatives who will definitely be turning up, or streaming from afar. Facebook lists 28 definites and 19 maybes, and the download stats for the mix MP3 are already looking good. As participation is fundamental to the concept, this is all very welcome - and greatly appreciated.

BONG. MIKE "NERVOUS BUT OPTIMISTIC", SOURCES REPORT.

K asked me tonight if I was nervous, and I suppose I am in several respects - but it's a necessary (and hence almost comforting) nervousness, as opposed to pointless catastrophising. One thing that I will need to watch for is excessive playing to the gallery. While the first song and the last song have been explicitly chosen to make a connection with the dancers in the square, I'd like to spend most of the rest of the hour remaining true to the original brief: dancing with honesty, like there's nobody watching. It's Antony Bloody Gormley, not Britain's Got Bloody Talent.

BONG. HELPFUL VISUAL AID WILL HELP "DRIVE TRAFFIC", SAYS MIKE.

In my one concession to the concept of "props", K has knocked me up a nice little laminate. This contains basic instructions for the start of the hour, most particularly the URL of the mix, which I can wave at the cameras before starting the music. This might help to bring a few more web-streamers on board.

BONG. (Oops, it's midnight already. The rest can wait. A pledge is a pledge.)

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Monday, September 14, 2009

The 60 minute plinth mix is available for streaming or download.

Finally - on the eighth draft, no less - I've ended up with the final, FINAL version of the plinth mix.

You can stream it or download it from one of two locations:
1. http://soundcloud.com/miketd/mikes-plinth-mix (smart, streamlined, user-friendly)
2. http://www.zshare.net/audio/65568530f16dea46/ (skanky, low-rent, ad-infested)

For ease of pimpage, I've set up easy-to-remember aliases for both addresses:
http://tinyurl.com/plinthmix and http://tinyurl.com/plinthmix2

More by accident than design, the final mix is EXACTLY one hour, zero minutes and zero seconds long. This pleases me enormously. Many of the tracks are beat-mixed into each other, and I hope you'll appreciate the smoothness of my transitions. And if you're looking for Personal Lyrical Resonances along the way, then you should find plenty to chew on.

I'm not publishing a track listing online, but downloaders will find it stashed away on the "lyrics" section of the MP3 tag data. So if you're playing it on an iPod, just press the centre button a few times, and it will pop up on your display screen.

Obviously, it's up to you whether you play the mix in advance of Thursday - but might I suggest that the magic will work better if you don't? (Then again, you might want to practise your best moves in readiness. And who am I to stand in your way...)

Finally, might I draw your attention to my official profile page on the One & Other website? As the site designers have fully embraced Web 2.0 functionality, you can leave comments or merely "pledge your support". (But only if you want to. I really don't mind if you don't.) After my hour is up, the same address will then take you to the full hour's worth of archived footage.

Enough pimping for tonight. I hope you like the mix.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

You can dance, you can jive...

So, what can I say about the last 24 hours that's ethically on-limits for a blogger who is conscious of his wider responsibilities?

The bizarre saga, which has got the whole village talking, of the... er, nope, better not go there.

The poignant vignette, that I... ah, perhaps not.

What I really thought of... ooh, not exactly advisable.

The... pfft, not even hinting at that one.

Well, perhaps I can tell you a little bit about last night's capers in the Memorial Hall. Our local indie/rock/soul/pop/folk covers band (some of them don't like to use the f-word, but I definitely saw an accordion) played two sets, the second of which got most of us leaping around: particularly with the opener ("Losing My Religion", complete with Actual Authentic Mandolin) and the encore ("Dancing Queen". which I strongly suspect that the band would rather never play again, but then you under-estimate the Abba Love in this village at your peril). And if I didn't actually recognise the song that was introduced as the "coolest" song in their set, then at least I could afford myself a rock-snobby "Pah" of patrician derision when discovering it was this one. Let it never be forgotten that "cool" is a relative concept.

As for the disco itself, "Shoddy Shaun" (whoops, did I say "Shonky" yesterday?) was indisposed, so a last minute stand-in DJ from the nearest market town did the honours. And what did he play? Abba, The Nolan Sisters, Diana Ross, Dolly Parton, Cyndi Lauper, Soft Cell, The Weather Girls... well, one had to wonder. Suddenly, my camptastic plinth mix - to be made available for download tomorrow evening - looked really rather butch.

As for today, we spent an agreeable couple of hours wandering round a local arts festival. The landscape painter at the top of our lane was exhibiting in a handsomely converted stable block, and since he also plays in the local indie/rock/whatsit band, a third and a fourth set were performed to the assembled seekers of truth and beauty.

Up the road in the market square, another band were performing classics from K's formative years - including the first song on the aforementioned plinth mix - to a kindly crowd of sensibly jumpered, real-ale-quaffing, alternative-arts-scene ex-hippies and their extended families. For K, it was a glimpse at a lifestyle path that he might well have travelled, had I not materialised in his early twenties and summarily whisked him away from all of that. And perhaps - as I found myself wondering out loud, with a sudden twinge of guilt - he might have carved out a perfectly satisfactory niche for himself, secured in that parallel bubble?

Oh, but look at the time. Five minutes to midnight, and that "Publish Post" button is looming large, if my pledge is to be maintained. Well, let's just leave it there!