18 October 2016


These questions ocurred to me today while on the bus to Camden Town.

Is posting on the internet our thoughts, our pictures, our stories, our rants, our activities, then eagerly, hungrily, checking for responses, is it a bit like being a child again, seeking parental approval or if not approval, any kind of response? Are all internet social media like metaphorical parents of whatever sort of child we were, and still are to some degree?

For my part I can answer a hesitant yes. Does anybody else reading this feel the same? I cross-post to Facebook and some people have replied over there.

16 October 2016


Same period of time (1962), same place. The only reason Reg and I are in Rome is because my sister Anne and her Italian husband Gerardo Guerrieri said  "Come. You can work with us!" when we were wondering what was next after our years in Paraguay ended (more about all this in my ongoing online autobiography).

So we're both working in the office of the Teatro Club, an extraordinary organisation created by Anne and Gerardo which brings international theatre, dance, music, myriad roads all leading to Rome. I'm designing posters for a forthcoming show by the Moisseiev Russian ballet company but meanwhile, Odetta is about to give a solo performance and I'm helping out backstage. 

Odetta  in Rome, 1962

Odetta, whose unforgettable voice I've never heard before and whose majestic presence overwhelms me, is standing calm and serene before her curtain call while I'm running around panicking in case I've forgotten something and catastrophe is imminent.

Odetta turns to me smiling like a Buddha and says something - why why why can't I remember her actual words? - something which means don't sweat the small stuff but so much more eloquent, in that voice, with that presence, so calm,like a shower of blessings. All my panic melts away and all the panics melt away and you have to laugh.

She goes on stage and she sings her songs and now all I have to do is put her records on and I'm back in that moment. If you've never heard Odetta, or even if you have, listen to her. This is from one of her blues albums.

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14 October 2016


It's 1962. My husband Reg Dixon and I have left Paraguay behind and are living in a roof-top apartment in Trastevere, Rome's left-bank. In the evenings we often drop in at the Folk Studio, a cavernous musical haven for world citizens and restless locals, run by Harold Bradley, a hugely talented African American singer, actor, painter and all-around exceptional human being. His deep velvet basso profundo version of the old Gospel classic God's Gonna Cut You Down can easily persuade you Harold is God but he'd never cut you down because he loves you too much.

We've made friends with Harold and, since Reg plays the guitar and we both sing, sometimes we perform our American, English, French, Spanish or Mexican repertoire. Other amateur and professional musicians often come up on stage from the audience and, one winter night, a skinny kid wearing a casquette (you know, those flat caps) gets up there. 

To my shame, I can't now remember what he sang or even if he had his guitar but I know it was good. Reg and I and another man and the kid, who is extremely drunk and hilariously funny with it, go next door to a bar for some food. The kid's sense of humour is so sharp and so contagious that we are all falling about in blissful hilarity. The kid's name is Bob Dylan. He isn't yet very famous but his manager Al Grossman is with him protectively on that evening in Rome. I'm absolutely sure that Dylan wouldn't remember the incident but herewith my good wishes to the Nobel prizewinner, whether he'll pick up the prize or not.

Looking for a photo to include, I came across an astonishingly detailed account by Olof Björner of Dylan's comings and goings, including the trip to Rome. It says 1961 - I'm pretty sure it was 1962 but never mind, I've copied the relevant extract below. Also found a photo of Harold Bradley at the Folk Studio around that time.

Bob Dylan -circa 1962

Harold Bradley at the Folk Studio

Harold Bradley (centre) at the Folk Studio

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10 October 2016


Foolishly, I stayed up last night to watch the Trump/Clinton debate - if that word can be applied to the infantile slanging match I witnessed, my jaw dropping so low that it's still not quite in place.

In 1984, when some of you were still in swaddling clothes (swaddling??) I won a Guardian competition for political montages and got a bottle of champagne (not Bollinger). Below is a new version of my montage - I simply changed the faces and the context - and further below is the original. I rest my case.

Trump-Clinton debate-9-Oct2016


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