Till time permits otherwise please be satisfied with this hasty report
The Barbican thing was extremely enjoyable (there was also a
brilliant and extensive Joseph Beuys exhibition there) but I have
consequently had very little sleep and will not report properly
until later. Gary was on sparkling form and gave the professional
comic mind of Douglas Adams a fine run for his money. He ragged
and ribbed and mystified him and there was much hilarity. Not
everyone liked it, however: the deadpan humour on both sides didn't
appeal to David Fogarty, nor to
Burt Webb: click to read their comments, and replies by
Richard Solly and by
Procol's Dave Ball.
Douglas had flown in from LA specially for this event and as a fan knew what to ask: they talked a lot about music and stayed off the much-trod biog stuff to everyone's relief. It was nothing like Parkinson interviewing Sir Paul Macca on the telly the other night: the accent was on informality and Gary was characteristically mystifying on occasions: one can see why professional interviewers have been so rattled by him in the past. Between them Brooker and Adams 'spun off' into many surreal corners.
A piano had been supplied on the whim of the day before, at which Gary played and sang A Salty Dog (including the Swiss loco-hooter story, and a self-mocking smidgeon of Bernstein thrown in), As Strong as Samson, Rum Tale, Too Much Monkey Business, Holding On (with some of the words of Perpetual Motion) and part of The Worm and the Tree (yes really, at Franky's request). These performances were cajoled from him by hyper-fan Adams and were by no means polished: Gary broke off with comic asides, lost his way in songs he's had no call to play for decades, and fumbled genially ... there wasn't an atom of pretence about the whole thing and it would have been impossible to mistake any of it for a prepared recital.
No breathtaking revelations from the interview but much, much
fun. Gary also showed a fine compilation of films which I will
report post-slumber. Peter Christian took some very nice pix. Organiser John Tolanksi
was visibly moved to tears 'by Gary's poetry, genius and
innocence' (I think I wrote this down somewhere). He also kindly
credited me with putting him in touch with G's office which I had
forgotten, it was so long ago, and stood us a fine meal.
Quite a good showing of Palers; Antonio flew in from Novara with presents for all ... thanks, Antonio! Interesting and sensible questions from the audience at the end of the two-hour presentation. Diane and John from 'Shine On' were there, of course .... Wix and Margo from Chiddingfold gigs; Dave Ball was there ... Keith Reid likewise ... had a nice v positive chat with him ... looking well, inevitably foresees more delays on his book.
Supper with Brookers / Adamses afterwards, much good humour
and much talk about e-mail and the cyber world. GB's inability to
retrieve e-mail is a standing joke. Sends his good wishes to all
involved at BtP ... Franky very appreciative too (and the only
one to show rock and roll tendencies, lobbing food across
restaurant into open mouths).
Nice to spend time with Frans Steensma though it's hard to navigate North London in the wee small hours of six guilders while talking PH at the same time ... a labyrinthine goodbye if ever there was one.
Got home at 4 to a nightingale singing in the road. This is highly unusual in urban Bristol. Good omen perhaps, though it has to be said that GB did not unveil new PH album and tour dates on this particular occasion. He did however help us out with some very nice prizes for the annual BtP Christmas competitions, so there's that to look forward to.
Brooker at the Barbican 1999: index page