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John Moore's Diary

John Moore Is Cheered By Port Eliot & Luke Haines Being Nice
The Quietus , August 6th, 2010 06:07

After a spell in the doldrums, our man Moore heads to the West Country for the fruity extravaganza of the Port Eliot Literary Festival, where he plays some songs and Mr Haines does a reading

Dear Diary,

I think I should perhaps start warning people that my bipolar slump is at an end and I am once again shooting up the foothills to the summit of jolliness. On the surface, this is a good thing – certainly for me, I've been chipper, quite well behaved so far, and have caught myself grinning several times. To those close to me, it should be a happy time – at least for the time being, until I shoot off the summit into space, try to involve them in another insane scheme then chastise them mercilessly for their lily-liveredness and level-headedness; but so far so good. I have managed another excruciating depression without resorting to the hangman's rope, lethal cocktails, or listening to the Tindersticks at half speed. My flat is almost as spotless as a middle aged gay financier's and the washing up has been done. Even the Loose Moorelles were impressed with my kitchen floor when they braved it round here the other night to rehearse. I am getting up half an hour earlier each day and predict by next week I'll be springing out of bed by seven, writing a novel, recording a new album and starting a new business… which will look promising then crash as I plummet back to earth.

One of the triggers for this volte face is the fantastic weekend spent camping and rocking at The Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall. Primarily a book bash, it featured various bands, none of which I saw, a live radio broadcast by Jarvis Cocker which I missed, a reading by my great pal Luke Haines which I also missed because I wasn't allowed to take my ice cream into the reading room, a Caught By The River tent and an Idler Academy – which I did attend to hear Wilco Johnson's wonderful lecture on astronomy, marvel at Bill Drummond's carpentry but mostly I suppose because there was a firkin of ale in the staff tent that needed to be drunk. The John Moore Rock And Roll Trio featuring The Loose Moorelles were scheduled to play in the walled Garden on Saturday night. No longer sporting an all Mary Chain rhythm section, we were graced by the stand up bass virtuoso, my old pal Frey Smith – who I'll soon be recording an album with. I felt bad for him waking up in the tent on Saturday morning. Not only had it had rained in the night, but we were surrounded by the small shrieking children of my friends, and the voice of Toby Young having breakfast, while expounding the virtues of his new free school. Frey likes Crass and Jazz.

On drums, we had an unknown quantity – Mr Henry Walker of Norwich. A JMRnR3 fan and facebook friend. Just as I once lied to Alan McGee that I was a great drummer to land myself in the Jesus And Mary Chain, Henry insisted that he was a great sticksman – so understandably I was worried. With Justin from Elastica on standby – he lives near there, and was at the festival giving a drum master class, we had a brief rehearsal with Henry. Not only did he know the songs better than I did, he was a fantastic drummer and had a beautiful black rockabilly jacket – and he could do backing vocals.

The gig was a wonderful success, we went down a storm, and our captive audience danced, hollered, and refused to let us leave the stage until we'd played three encores. I should perhaps mention that it was raining, so their reluctance to leave the tent might have been for other reasons – but why split hairs? The Loose Moorelles –Laura Barton and Cecilia Fage were a revelation, an explosion of beauty, harmony and delight. At one point, they left the stage completely and ran through the audience shaking their maracas… It's hard to stay depressed when you've got the Loose Moorelles in your band. For the first time in a great many years, I felt compelled to wiggle my arse at the crowd – and even more surprisingly they seemed to liked it.

Special mention should be given to Luke Haines, whose performance on Sunday evening was brilliant. Faced with the adversity of a power cut, he did something I'd never seen him do before. He suggested the audience came closer – and they did, giving the whole thing a wonderful intimacy. Mind you, I was sitting miles away, tasked with entertaining his young son and preventing a stage invasion. It all felt very grown up. Laura Barton read from her wonderful novel – Twenty One Locks, Louis Eliot and The Embers rocked – Louis's family own and run Port Eliot… perhaps being born so far on the right side of the tracks is a hindrance for some rockers, but hey – I'm no snob. You should check out Louis' new record – it's a masterpiece, and the Port Eliot Festival is a piece of magic. So there you have it. Things are looking up, and it feels like summer. I told you I was happy. X

PS. If it isn't too much to ask, I would like you to nominate me as an Olympic torch bearer for the last leg of its journey through the East End of London in July 2012. The London Olympic Committee is seeking Extraordinary Ordinary members of the public to loft its ancient flame – if you call Berlin 1936 ancient, through the city towards the stadium; and they don't come much more ordinary than me. Although I am by no means a sporting gentleman, and do not even possess a pair of trainers, I would very much like to get my hands on the torch and play a part in this historic event.

Dressed in a traditional pearly king tracksuit bought off the market, I would stop to light the cigarettes and pipes of the jolly cockney crowd, enjoy a carton of winkles at Tubby Isaacs' legendary Whitechapel stall, then nip into the Blind Beggar for a Ronnie Kray Luger and lime. Shaking off the inevitable minor sports and TV legends such as Jimmy Whirlwind White and Queenie Watts, I would – in time honoured East End fashion, nip out through the cellar, then follow an Iain Sinclair psychogeographic route to my drop-off point, taking in the Jack The Ripper trail, Nicholas Hawksmoor churches and the plague pits of Rotherhithe. Finally arriving at midnight at the Walthamstow Stadium, I would have done my bit for sport, brought honour to my family, and got a bit of exercise into the bargain. Please nominate me or you'll get a lollipop lady, a yoof wurka and Timmy the talking guide dog.