Man, as I wait to hear about this new workspace, I thought my room downstairs needed a little TLC. One of the walls, where the sofa sits, I thought would look nice with some wallpaper. But instead of getting someone in, I decided to do it myself. I like the meditation of DIY. And weirdly the stress that accompanies it is similar to gigs when you feel they are about to go shit…
When I need to do anything here, I have to get translations (yes I will learn it soon) so the word for wallpaper is tapete (ta-pay-ti) and I wanted something old and smokey. After looking night after night, I found the best wallpaper shop in Berlin. It’s small but it has the most incredible amount of wall paper I have ever seen. We spent a morning last week, browsing through those big portfolios full of bits of tapete… the man who worked there was sweet and helped me find what I didn’t know I was looking for.
The next day, I had my wallpaper. 2 rolls. I bought a wallpaper paste brush and a bucket and some paste powder from Obi… it’s Home Base… and, armed with a how to wallpaper a wall web page and drawing on memories of my granda wallpapering his bedroom and showing me how to do it when I was 6, I cleared the area and set about covering that wall. I remember my granda having a wallpapering table. I thought the size of the wall didn’t warrant a big table… and the concrete floor was flat enough and easy to clean afterwards so I measured the walls and started cutting the paper so the intricate pattern would line up. Then I went upstairs and looked at the paste packet. I got on google translate and typed it all in and am glad I did. There were lots of little hints and tips… I ended up using the electric whisk to get the lumps out. Then I pasted all the paper and folded it in on itself and left the lot for 10 minutes to soak. I made a plum line and set to puting that first piece on straight… it took about 2 minutes. The second piece was harder and took about 10 minutes… The 3rd was the hardest I had to cut around a power outlet and an aluminium tube… The stress levels were reaching red. The edges were drying very fast and so curling away from the wall. I had to resort to getting my fingers covered in paste and applying it gingerly to the outermost edge all the way down each strip, i’m sure I saw my mum or my granda doing this but it could have been hallucination . Sweat was now trickling down my face, down my neck down my back. Then Nora shouted that it was time to go and collect Clay!!! But I was locked… I couldn’t stop as it all had to be done in the oner. The paste was on the paper and I was trapped… sweating like a gorilla, Nora calling every couple of minutes wasn’t helping…
I finished and made it to Clay’s kinderlader with a minute to spare…
Amazingly the wall looks great…
Songwriting is approaching. I always get nesty before a gusher… doesn’t sound too appealling but can I assure you it’s very sticky.
(yes you’ve just read about me wallpapering)
I’m flying back to London tomorrow. Mum has been in Berlin this weekend. Clay ran her ragged. She leaves tomorrow too. Me and Nora went to see Toy Story 3 on Saturday. It was very good. I started crying within the first 3 minutes of the movie when Woody reacts to Andy’s voice on the telephone. That is some fantastic animation to imbue so much emotion on the face of a cgi representation of a toy. There were a couple of quite dark passages which I thought would give little kids nightmares. There were toddlers in the cinema who were clearly terrified during these scenes. Parents, don’t you know you’re eroding your kids innocence? That shit is precious… it’s like they have had their own innocence obliterated so much they cannot see properly anymore this pure beautiful soul in front of their eyes. The man sitting next to us had no expression on his face as he told us his 4 year old was very very scared. Gaahh!! Anyways, the film is amazing. Go and see it if you haven’t already.
So Monday thru Friday is looking busy. I am doing a radio show tomorrow on radio 2 at around 5.50/6pm. Simon Mayo. Listen if you want. I have to do a cover. I wanted to do that one by The La’s but it was too obscure. Then I chose a Keane song but that was also not a single… it is for The Great British song thing they are doing. So I had a look at the list of songs which had already been covered and then it came to me in a flash… Superman by Black Lace… Joking… I won’t say what I am covering but it is from 1987 and was a song I really loved that year. 1987. I was 14.
So, if you read my blog earlier, you’d have learned I was forbidden entry to my hotel bar last night on account of my head gear. I got a call from the manager this afternoon who was as puzzled as I at this bizarre dress code. She told me she had spoken to the bar and from today onwards the no hat rule would be abolished. Hat wearers would now be free to come and go as they please. This was enough for me but she added that her staff had been brainstorming all day about how to say sorry. Afew minutes later there was a knock at my door. Two of the girls from downstairs were standing, both in hats, holding a hat containing folded up strips of paper. Each piece of paper contained a forfeit. I had to choose one. So I picked one and then another because I wanted to know what the others said…then I asked if I could see them all. I was disappointed “Death By Firing Squad” was not listed. Nevertheless I asked that they leave the different options with me and I would let them know.
So I thought maybe y’all could take a look and help me decide.
Just got back from my Deutschebank Busk. I played for 35 minutes and managed to build quite a crowd as well as folks on passing busses. Thanks to Deutsche Bank security for allowing us to do this. Hopefully the staff who saw me perform, will pass the word to the their co workers and they’ll vote for Warchild as Charity of the Year.
At 12 pm TODAY you will find me outside DeutscheBank in London, busking on behalf of Warchild, the charity that helps kids caught in the middle of conflict all over the world. They do a great job so it’s an honour to be asked to help them. The reason for the busk? Well they have been shortlisted with 7 others as charity of the year by DeutscheBank. 3 charities will walk away with £1.5million. So you you say that I’m busking for 1 and a half million. No pressure…
DeutscheBank, 1 Great Winchester Street, London Wall, London EC2N 2DB
My friend, the brilliant director Wolfgang Becker, invited us along with 18 others to the Berlin Philarmonie yesterday. The evening began early at X Filme HQ to watch a movie. It was a surprise so we all were curious as we took our seats in their little cinema. Wolfgang spoke in German but I picked up that we were about to see the best horror movie of all time and it was connected to the concert we would see later in the evening. It could only be one film. The Shining. One of Wolfgang’s partners Tom had managed to borrow an original 35mm print of the movie. I had only seen it on TV so this was a thrill to hear the hushed rattle of the projector behind the sound proof glass. If you haven’t seen it, The Shining is Stanley Kubriks take on horror. Jack Nicholson plays one of his most memorable roles…And if you get the DVD you have to see the documentary his daughter made while they shot the film. Some wonderful behind the scenes footage of Nicholson doing his thing… What a movie. It stays with you.
After the movie we drove to the Philarmonie and took our seats to watch the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra take us through Bartók, Luciano Berio and Igor Stravinsky. The conductor was Mariss Jansons. He produced the greatest classical music performance I have ever seen. The Firebird Suite was mindblowing. There was a standing ovation at the end of the concert. The place went wild. They did 2 extra compositions at the end. It was incredible. After the show we all walked out in a daze and drove over to stage 3 of the night which was dinner at a nice spanish restaurant in Kotbusser Tor.
Now afew days earlier Wolfgang had asked if I would accompany him on guitar and play some songs at this night. Of course I said of course and we rehearsed on Saturday afternoon. So we played one of his favourite songs Hit Me Baby One More Time and then he suggested the Keane song Try Again which Tim and I had been playing together on the recent tour and then he asked me to play one of my new songs… It was alot of fun. Christian, Wolfgang’s musical director played piano and me and Wolfgang on guitar. I had a nice chat with Tom Tykwer, another great german director. Another cool evening at the hands of Herr Becker.
I struck up a myspace friendship with a cellist in new york back in 2007. He was sweet, very charming. We exchanged emails over the past 3 years and at some point I was gonna get him in to do some chops. I was psyched for him when he worked on the Viva La Vida song and even more psyched when he and his wife had their baby daughter. So we were sitting tonight in Dallas, chatting about Regina Spector’s cello player and I was saying how our agent Pete had told my manager Ian about it and how terrible it was for his family and then suddenly I realised it was Daniel. Just terrible. He leaves a wife and his little daughter behind. Anyways sad sad sad.
The past few weeks some friends and I have been biking round Manhattan. On our first trip we cycled up the east river from lower east side right up to 110th street and across to the west side and back down the Hudson as the sun set. We stopped off at Patsy’s Pizzaria on 118th and 1stAve for a slice of the best pizza in all of Manhattan. Sinatra ordered 100 pizzas to be flown to him in California back in the day. That’s some greedy shit…
Outside the UN
Sunset in Spanish Harlem
P Diddy’s Stretch Limo
Our second trip went straight up the middle of Manhattan,through central park and back down the Hudson again. We stopped to pay respects at the Dakota and then rode to the great lawn and lay there a while in the balmy air, observing the mating rituals of the young and viril, a girly photo shot, frizbee couple, softball dads. The Park That Is Central
Oh aaaannnd… I was sitting, practicing my piano chops when a police woman came to the door and told me something about my car. I said “Mein auto?” incredulously. When you don’t know how to speak a language, expression is a valuable tool. Nora (my in-house babel fish) was out so it was like some strange game of charades, where the film was called “Your Car Has Just Been Smashed Up. Come See.”
When I got to the car, there was another car sort of attatched to the front bumper. The girl, who’s car it was, had left it double parked and, most importantly, without the handbrake engaged. She went into a shop and the car slowly rolled down the street and clanged into mine. There was very little damage. My bumper was pashed and her car was all scraped. She was nice and was shaken slightly. The police in Berlin are great. They aren’t the same as UK police. The police man who was with the police woman was standing smoking a fag and explaining the situation. It’s a bit like The Sweeney but in green uniforms and without the flares.