I owe Mike two gig posts, and I need to upload pictures for this, but I want to get my thoughts down now.

What happened was, there were these two kids who used to skip school and busk on Grafton Street. And they were rubbish and a couple of the older guys took them on and taught them the basics, and they destroyed a few guitars, and they got good, and they got bands, and they grew up to be Glenn Hansard and Mic Christopher and were in a way ringleaders in a music community that was taking off with cocky young things who thought they were immortal.

And then, 29 November 2001, Mic took a fall after a gig and hit his head and died.

And Mic’s friends played a benefit for his family, and with Mic’s sister pulled his solo album together and got it released, and Skylarkin is a beautiful beautiful thing. And last night, they put together a show, a memorial, a tribute for Mic, and a fundraiser for a cause near and dear to them all. It was glorious.

Ten years ago, I watched Glenn sing Heyday at Witnness with tears tripping him. Last night, he hauled people on and off the stage, dropped notes, broke strings, told stories, hugged everyone in reach, and at one point caused Colm Mac Con Iomaire to nearly smack himself in the face with the fiddle by failing completely at being a competent MC in the best way possible – “This is our friend Connall, he’s going to sing the next one. And I don’t think I actually know Connall’s surname. Connall! What’s your surname?”

The thing with the Irish music scene is, it’s small, it’s a very tight community. You don’t have to be making it very big to be very well known, especially if you are, as Mic was, influencing so many other people. You don’t even need to be around – “If you don’t like the Coronas, you can blame Glenn and Mic, they gave us the idea”. One death, especially someone so young and well liked, hits like a sledgehammer. Glenn said last night that Mic’s death was like the line between their gang being boys and becoming men – ‘We’d lost the leader of the pack, we all had to grow up, you know?’ 

There were a lot of people on that stage last night. I’ll have to go back and check exactly who  –  we missed a few at the start, some people never got introduced, some of them I just don’t know and can’t remember. Folk who worked with Mic and the Mary Janes, folk from the busking days, folk who never met him, a few people who weren’t even born when he died. So much affection and respect and deep, honest love on that stage.

On the floor, too. Vicar Street holds 1500. It was rammed. People filtered away as the night went on – Tuesday night, work in the morning – but it stayed pretty full to the end. Or at least, we left just past midnight, when Glenn and Colm finished ‘I’ve Got Your Back’ and there were plenty left still singing. Vicar Street are perfectly capable of chucking people off the stage and out of the building past curfew, but not last night.

They sang Mic’s songs – the Mary Janes songs, the solo songs, songs that they all used to play together, songs he helped out with, songs he played to other people, songs he drove everyone else mad trying to learn, songs that reminded people of him. They read the poems and stories they associate with him. They told stories. They played the videos. Colm continued his grand tradition of dropping people in it by revealing the state of the carpets in the flat Mic and Glen shared in the Harcourt Street days. People who haven’t a word in Irish attempted to say thank you as Gaeilige because it’s what Mic did at shows.

His little girl sang. She never knew him. He adored children and never knew about her. She has about forty ‘uncles and aunties’ who can tell her about him, and she has the same startlingly, stunningly beautiful kind of voice.

That music is what I went through my twenties on. Skylarkin has been on every music player I’ve owned. The Mary Janes have made it onto about half of them. I can, and do, sing every song straight through. I didn’t get home until 3am this morning, and I’m so, so glad I went.



Back when Liz and Amy came to visit, someone mentioned that Arthur Darvill was going to be playing Mephistophles in Marlowe’s Faustus for the Globe summer season. Given that quite aside from our raging fangirl love of Rory, young Mr Darvill is a bloody good actor, Faust is always a good show and none of us had actually been to the Globe while it was being used for its intended purpose, we made the fastest group booking known to man and constructed a jaunt around it.

Which I’d sort of forgotten about until August, actually. That was when my manager sent round an impassioned plea for us to use our leave and get HR off his back. So I booked Thursday through Monday off and made the mistake of getting an early morning flight. Into Gatwick. Which should be razed to the ground and all those involved in its design, construction and administration put out of everyone else’s misery. Nice sunrise though.

Sunrise from plane

And then I had to phone the plumber about the ongoing dishwasher saga from London Bridge Station, because that’s just the kind of life I have. They were very nice about being interrupted by announcements for the express to Oxford. I caused a minor Twitter flurry by having Mike’s number wrong as well, which complicated the whole ‘collect Mary and park safely on sofa until coherent/Amy gets home’ plan slightly. But I was collected and fed tea and was being contentedly sleep-deprived at poor Mike when work phoned about the dishwasher. At which point I attempted to imprint my face on the sofa. That machine is the bane of my life.

So I went off for a wander round London instead. John Lewis is really much bigger on the inside. Sadly deficient in what I wanted though. So I came back to wonderous cooking and wine and lemon posset and merciless slagging of Mark’s accent. And then keeled over a bit.

Friday morning was mostly spent trading personal insults and worrying over the rapidly rising temperature of my netbook. It is conclusively knackered, poor wee thing. Eventually we went and found Bethany and got inveigled into a restaurant on Brick Lane for lunch. And very good it was too. Then we came back the long way (there were many cats) and tormented Mike some more. 

Mike, under hoodie 

And then, The Natural History Museum Late. I have never been drinking in a museum before. I like it. Also liked the Guardian Science Live podcast, especially Dr Vogel’s fantastic moustache and the look on Alok Jha’s face when he realised where the sentence “So you don’t often let people into the bowels of the museum, how does that feel for you?” was going too late to do anything about it but wait for the hysterical giggling to stop. And people let me play with a chameleon. A chameleon! He liked me! It made me extremely happy which entertained everyone else immensely.


And when we got kicked out of the museum we went to the pub. And Liz collected Kevin and someone who shall remain nameless licked a flower arrangement and there was a drunk string quartet behind us on the way home. Seriously. They had cellos. Awesome.

Saturday was for defeating the ticket machines at London Bridge to visit my godmother and pay due worship to the dog. Who is an enormous Rhodesian Ridgeback who follows my uncle around like a limpet and feels the entire point of my existence is satisfy her instatiable need for petting, then let her shed all over me. She’s a gorgeous old lady. 


I got back just in time for the end of Doctor Who and an evening of Sling & Arrows and Amy trying to make Mike attack me with cushions. They’re very mean. And Sunday morning I dragged myself out early to go exchange the last hostages of the break-up with Gerry (I suspect it says things about us that it took nearly a year to get round to handing belongings back), said true things that may cause him to never speak to me again, and laid that one to rest. All good.

And then to the Globe. Via the pub, where Amy declared loudly that the only way to do 16th century drama is drunk and got us stared at by some presumably teetotal/inexperienced Globe-goers. We also scared a waitress with our counting up of the North American/native ratios in language which those unacquainted might consider bordering on abusive. And declared Psi our fearless leader, which caused him to get that very Psi-specific look of amused horror and mutter darkly about lunatics.

Expeditionary excursion to Elizabethan Theatre

And Faustus! Which was quite excellent. Lovely casting, and they shamelessly play up the impression that a lot of the time Faustus’ shenanigans are making Mephistophles’ day more difficult than it already was. And he was in Hell. Not entirely sure that’s what you’re supposed to take away, but when the demon is stage left rolling his eyes at the audience (fourth wall? What fourth wall?) while Faustus declaims his ambitions stage right, there’s only so many ways to take it.

They use their space beautifully, in proper 16th century manner, the company acting as the bookshelves, Beelezebub slamming back the trapdoors of hell, the audience built into the show and ocassionally sprayed in, well, whatever it was. I didn’t say it was a nice, tasteful, or suitable for children play. There was a little girl on the balcony, about eight, and her eyes just got wider and wider all the way through. I think her dad had to take some really awkward questions on the way home. There’s also a song and dance numebr at the end that I strongly suspect of being what happens when a director realises his two leads can both play guitar. It was great fun. And Amy was muttering bits of the monologues along and Sarah may have elaborated on the inadequacies of Faustus’ charcter where Belvolio could hear her. Poor Belvolio.


Then we repaired pub-wards, Laurence tortured Amy some more, Sarah and I got in an argument with the duty manager about acceptable waiting times for fish and chips (specifically, how forty minutes is generally not considered acceptable unless you tell people about it in advance, it’s four on a Sunday, were the customers a surprise?), and we scared the native some more.

Natural State Of Liz 
Natural State Of Laurence & Kevin 
Mike has Fear 
Natural State Of Amy 

Monday, Laurence and I expeditioned to Charing Cross Road and the bookshops, he dragged me into New Agey woo-woo bookshops, I found a shop full of owls and the best grumpy sign ever, he fed me Chinese custard buns and we discovered that Muji sell giant rubber band balls. I bought some for Amy and Mike. I should probably apologise to their neighbours for that.

Shop of Owls
No 'Bicycles' 
The lanterns are more photogenic than buns 

It was a good holiday. I liked it.