Sunday, 16 August 2009

Being Lofty

Really wanted a nifty title for this blog (not that it's of any great interest, don't get your hopes up, go read David Mitchell in the Guardian, he's brilliant*) and have ended up with a name that sounds like a Fringe show about the star of It Ain't 'Alf 'Ot Mum. (Mental note, must craft that into a pub quiz question: which sitcoms have two apostrophes in front of their words? See also Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.)

I've found the Loft Bar (the slightly exclusive performers bar to which I have a pass) to have lost its novelty. Last weekend I enjoyed a Saturday night where I was part of a group that felt like the Algonquin Round Table. I met fascinating people I'd not met before, and some that I slightly knew and got to know better, with whom the conversation was brilliant, in the old illuminating sense not the more modern Fast Show meaning. Other even more famous people would drift around our table and we'd be the flame around which moths would flutter, you could leap from meeting to meeting and conversation to conversation, in the most enjoyable way. I felt like I was interesting to listen to, and I felt I fitted into all the chats I was having. It was like a choreographed corridor scene in ER or Casualty, with less blood.

Last night, one week on from my most enjoyable night at the Loft, I had a second night in a row where I felt the conversation never quite reached those, er, (mustn't say lofty heights, mustn't say lofty heights) those ...heights. Friday night had its high spots, like celebrating an interesting new person's birthday with champagne and I dearly hope I get to talk to that couple again, but both nights have had an awful lot of awkward moments where I'll be talking to a couple of people and they both leave at the same time, leaving me stranded and floating.

At those junctures I have been employing the technique of writing a text on my phone, which makes it look like I actually sought out this splendid isolation in order to have a moment alone. And usually, by the time I've written "I am twittering this because I don't know anyone else here" which, frankly, should be one of the standard templates in everyone's phone, I have caught someone else's eye and found a lost soul or a group to join.

But the gilt's gone off the gingerbread, and unless conversations introduce me to people I really benefit from knowing, either for the pleasure of their company or their significance in the industry and cynically manipulatable usefulness to me and my career, I'm not now enjoying talking for the sake of talking, or the commensurate drinking for the sake of drinking that accompanies it.

I've even had a couple of conversations where, I think, I've said the wrong thing or pissed someone off. No-one's been so rude as last year when Jim Rose of the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow 1 star The Scotsman (to give him his full title) turned his back on me mid conversation in the style of Naboo in the Mighty Boosh. That remains the most jaw droppingly rude I think anyone's been to me in civilized society. But last night I was talking to two Australian comedians I'd not spoken to before, we even had a table to ourselves, then they both excused themselves saying they had to leave early, and lo two minutes later I saw them clustered on the far side of the bar so they clearly had only wanted to get away from me, which can lower your self esteem no end.

Another conversation last night was with a woman who lectures in branding and marketing at a music school. When she said that branding and self-promotion was the most important thing about music I enjoyed the opportunity to have a non-Edinburgh conversation so took a deliberately contrary position, saying that I thought, in a school teaching music, that to consider branding and self-promotion to be the most important thing was a dreadful point of view. I looked forward to this being one of those beautiful dinner party conversations which follows the pattern of Marxist dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, sparkles for a few minutes then moves onto other topics, everyone having aired and exchanged opinions in a light hearted but possibly thought-stimulating debate. What I forgot was that my response is what everyone from the creative industries says when she says that, and she obviously has to spend every conversation defending her brand and marketing oriented corner against we airy fairy writers and performers who think art comes first. Plus I was probably about to be marginally less interesting than a spotty first year, so she just said "I really don't want to have this conversation" and that was that.

So, though I will inevitably find myself magnetised towards the Loft Bar again and again before the month is out, I'm wearying of the hope of finding the company that will lead me into great conversation once more. Maybe tonight it will happen and I shall feel that I am F Scott Fitzgerald and my companions are Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde. Or maybe I'll have an early night cos I'll have been flyering all day** and I have an early start tomorrow. Let us see.

Kev F, Sunday morning, Edinburgh

*Or, by the way, if you are a follower of blogs on Facebook I do find Michael Legge and Liam Mullone to be consistently worth reading, although you do wish they could be happy just for once, even if it'd give us all less to read. Also worth reading are Richard Herring's Warming Up, and Graham Linehan's Twitter feeds. On which subject the two people least worth reading on Twitter are Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, fact.

** Last night was a total sellout. That makes 3 total sellouts in a row, five in total, three more shows that were just a tiny handful short of full, and our lowest audience so far has been 50. That contrasts to 2007 where we only had more than 50 punters in twice. I tell you, looking at my sales graph of a morning is one of the greatest pleasures of my day. But today we start the day with sales way down in the tens or twenties, so I must flyer, even though the rain will make it a very difficult task. Yep, branding and self-promotion are the most important thing in this game, fact.

1 comment:

brian's antipodean adventures said...

"branding and self-promotion was the most important thing about music"

What a horrible comment - what she really means is that they're the most important things to becoming a successful professional musician. The most important thing about music, I would say, is creating emotional connections between people; between writer and musician, performers and listeners, between fans... but that doesn't necessarily get the rent paid.

oh well, at least it's not rainy, i imagine wind makes flyering rather difficult though.

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